How to Improve Your Child’s Sleeping Patterns
Getting a child between the ages of one and fives years old to fall asleep and stay asleep can be much more difficult than anticipated. Many sleep issues in toddlers are related to age and their stages of development, which can lead to waking up throughout the night or the inability to fall asleep in general. At times, health or psychological problems may be to blame, but there are solutions.
Certain remedies for a young child’s sleep can be beneficial, like the habit of thumb sucking, but others can be detrimental. Parental intervention, surprisingly, can create a sense of dependency in the child, preventing them from falling asleep on their own. Develop a sleep schedule for your child, setting a strict bedtime. Additionally, to avoid having him or her lay in bed wide awake, be sure they are taking naps throughout the day.
A great strategy when dealing with a child dependent on a parent’s help is introducing any kind of object to promote comfort. This can be a teddy bear, blanket, toy, or doll that the child feels safe with, despite no parent being present. Bringing this into the bedtime routine you’ve established can have positive psychological effects, in that your child may associate his or her object of choice with actually feeling tired.
An important consideration that many parents overlook is that having the child fall asleep in the bed or crib he or she sleeps in has tremendous benefits. Holding your children until they fall asleep, or allowing them to sleep in your bed before returning them to their rooms creates the need for them to continue this sleeping pattern. Put your child to bed awake and leave the room. Not only will this teach them to fall asleep on their own, but children who learn to do this will be able to fall back asleep if they wake in the middle of the night without any assistance.
Be wary of how you approach the “checking method.” That is, checking in on your child during sleep can be beneficial or detrimental. For some children, frequent check-ins may be effective, but others may respond better to the opposite. If they wake up crying or yelling, the time in which you wait to enter the room is your decision. However, upon entering, your visits should be brief and non-stimulating, simply to assure them that you are still there for safety.
Patience is crucial in teaching your children to effectively fall and stay asleep. Always remain consistent despite more difficult nights, as altering strategies will only lead to confusion in a child. This is no easy process, and it will take time, but you will begin to see progress. If you are concerned about your child’s sleeping patterns, and feel they may be related to health or psychological issues, seek a medical professional for advice immediately.