By: Joleen Dilk Salyn
With the New Year upon us, comes the perfect time to begin to implement healthy changes for ourselves and our family. One of the most fundamental, but often overlooked cornerstones of health, is sleep.
As moms, we often could sleep very well, if only some little person would let us. However, bedtime battles and multiple night wakings for months on end can really impact the quantity and quality of sleep that we get. The good news is, that you can improve your child’s sleep rather quickly and therefore yours as well.
Start 2015 off right and make a New Year’s resolution to get more sleep this year by helping your little ones learn to sleep better. Unlike popular resolutions that add more to-dos to your already busy life, instilling a sleep routine for your baby or child will actually simplify your life by creating a daily rhythm. This gives definition and structure to your day and allows you to plan outings when your child will be the most content. It will also leave you with more time to do nothing but relax instead of trying for hours to put your little one to sleep. Either way, a daily sleep routine for your child will make your life easier. And as a mom, that’s always a great thing.
To get started with a new sleep routine for your child, follow these 5 tips for starting a new sleep routine;
1. Set a date
Look at your calendar and pick a time when there will be few interruptions. To help your child get used to the new routine, it’s important to let them sleep in their crib or bed for all sleep periods in the beginning. Not only does this help to instill the routine, but it also encourages healthy and restorative sleep that isn’t taken on-the-go or prone to interruptions.
2. Create and write out an age appropriate routine
If you’re unsure what routine is best for your child, start with documenting your child’s day. This includes wake ups times, their mood throughout the day, meals, diaper changes or potty times, naps and bedtimes. After 4-5 days of documentation, review the information and see what patterns you notice.
Write this routine out and post it in a highly visible location. For toddlers and preschoolers you can add pictures and make it into a poster for their room.
3. Develop a wind down routine
Develop a simple pre-sleep routine and do it before each sleep period. When a wind down routine is performed before every sleep time, it helps to cue your child’s brain to settle down for nap or night time and helps your child understand that sleep is about to happen. They will begin to look forward to their naps and bedtime, thus ensuring a much smoother sleep time process for everyone!
4. Start at the beginning of the day
The best place to start a new overall daily routine is at the beginning of the day. Starting early is an easy place to set the tone for the rest of the day and will keep your day on track, rather than starting at bedtime.
5. Be consistent
Like any changes we make this year, we must continually work at them in order to see the results. Being consistent will help your family quickly adopt the routine so it becomes second nature. In only a few weeks of sticking with your child’s new routine, life will be easier as your child will quickly and easily go to sleep.
Joleen Dilk Salyn is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep 101. She helps tired parents get their children sleeping through the night by working with the science of sleep and healthy sleep best practices.