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Things about Children’s Sleep that Parents Should Know

As a parent you must know a few things about children and sleep. Learn those facts here.

Tips for Parent By Ariba Khaliq / May 12, 2014

It is Difficult to Put a Child to Sleep

You’re rocking, walking, or nursing your baby and her eyelids droop as she begins to nod off in your arms. Her eyes close completely, but her eyelids continue to flutter and her breathing is still irregular. Her hands and limbs are flexed, and she may startle, twitch, and show fleeting smiles, called “sleep grins.” Just as you bend over to deposit your “sleeping” baby in her crib so you can creep quietly away, she awakens and cries. Babies need to be parented to sleep, not just put to sleep. Some babies can be put down while drowsy yet still awake and drift others need parental help by being rocked or nursed to sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty



The parent is advised to put the child to bed and ignore the child’s response. It is very effective and has not been shown to cause harm. However, many parents find it difficult. Image Courtesy: Getty



Graduated extinction

This is extinction with periodic parental checks. The interval between checking-in should increase nightly. Image Courtesy: Getty




The idea here is to put the child to bed when groggy, not after they have fallen asleep in your arms or on the couch. By doing this, it helps the child to develop techniques for falling asleep. It also discourages the very bad habit of associating the parents’ presence with falling asleep. Image Courtesy: Getty



Positive Bedtime Routines

The intent is to make bedtime a positive, enjoyable time for the child. Such things as taking a bath, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas, followed by a bedtime story can work wonders. Image Courtesy: Getty



Develop a Regular Sleep/Wake Schedule

Children and adolescents should have a consistent schedule. I urge parents to learn how many hours of sleep your child needs at that age and work backwards from wake time. Try to avoid no more than one hour’s difference on non-school nights. Image Courtesy: Getty



Avoid Caffeine

Children should avoid any caffeine-containing product after noon. Soda, coffee, chocolate, and iced tea are prime examples. Image Courtesy: Getty



Sleep Environment

Most studies show children sleep better in cool environments. Temperatures of 65° to 70° are recommended. Televisions and video games should be eliminated. Most studies show increased sleep problems and lighter sleep in children with televisions in the bedroom. Image Courtesy: Getty



Make sure that the number and duration of naps is appropriate for your child’s age. Note that after the age of five, most children do not require naps. However, each child is different, so there is no hard and fast rule here. We do know that naps too close to bedtime can interfere with the ability to fall asleep. Image Courtesy: Getty



Avoid Pre-Bedtime Roughhousing

This serves to increase the production of stress hormones, as well as increase the core body temperature. Both of these can inhibit the ability to fall sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty



Avoid Bedtime Snacks, Especially Those High in Sugar

These snacks can cause a sudden burst in energy — the last thing you want when your child is trying to go to sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty


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