top tips for a good night's sleep - guest blog by child sleep matters
I’m Philly, a mum of three, child sleep consultant and part time teacher. Child sleep has been my passion since having my first daughter 6 years ago. With her birth came immeasurable joy but it also marked the hardest time of my life in terms of how her lack of sleep (and as a result, mine) affected my enjoyment of parenting and my relationships with others. I’m here to tell you that it’s totally OK to ask for help with your child’s sleep (and it’s totally OK if you don’t want help too!) – it changed my life in many ways; having a happy child, a happy home, being confident in my parenting choices and not feeling worried about going out and whether she would sleep; it helped me with my son when he was born, and it has given me a new career helping other mums who feel how I felt and I LOVE it! I’ve been where you are! 😊
My first top tip that may help you is to invest in a good routine. It sounds obvious and is usually over-looked but the importance goes deep. The routine is a cueing system for your child’s brain and body (and yours – do you ever yawn during their bedtime routine?!) to signal that sleep is coming. They don’t use the clock like we do to cue our behaviours, but their internal body clock is so strong that a 30-45 minute routine, done in the same order, is like sleepy dust to our children and can also prevent bedtime battles. A good routine includes a bath or wash, two stories (watch for battles here) and using a song to finish can be a lovely way to cap off a routine.
Another tip for older children is a toddler training clock – again not rocket science and they’re a popular purchase but they can often be used wrong and therefore aren’t helpful at all. If your child is sleeping in a bed, using a training clock can work wonders in keeping them in bed through the night. The trick is to refer to it at every bedtime and every morning and make it the absolute rule. Use of a reward chart can work well with those who struggle to stay in bed and consider your early morning activities if early wakes are a problem.
Props! Does your child rely on a prop to fall asleep? Most of us have them – sleeping with the windows open, socks off/on, facing a particular way, pillow preference etc. but if your child relies on a prop to fall asleep then you can often be faced with early mornings, night wakings and short naps because, at the end of their natural 30-45 minutes sleep cycle (oh we all know the 45 minute nap length!) they can’t fall back to sleep by themselves. Removing your child’s sleep prop can help them to sleep more peacefully and take longer naps. The most common props are dummies, feeding and rocking or cuddling and, with my gentle plans, you can help your child learn to fall asleep without them.