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Our Favourite Sleeping Tips for Children

A good night's sleep is crucial for children as they spend more than 40% of their time asleep and it directly impacts on the mental and physical development of the child

 

Being a kid takes an enormous amount of energy, with all the growing, learning and boisterous zooming around, sleep is crucial to keeping up. Every child is different, but generally the younger the child, the more sleep they need. A lack of sleep results in an irritable child, more tears, more arguments and less focus.

A good night sleep for babies and older children

In order to take some of the stress, tears and tantrums out of bedtime, we've teamed up with Adam Black, father of 4 and founder of Feather & Black to provide you with a few tips and things to think about when you're putting your little ones to bed.

Routines

Every parenting book you read stresses the importance of a good bedtime routine which is the key to children getting a good night sleep.

Bedtime should be relaxing and calm and become a ritual that ensures they feel comforted and secure. A combination of a relaxing bath, bedtime story and warm milk is a good place to start.

Having a set bedtime as well as a time to start your routine is important. Obviously things happen that get in the way but the more often you stick to the plan the easier bedtime will be. It's also important to stick to routines on weekends or at holiday time.

You may adapt the routine in terms of time, but keeping the same routine will help when the school year starts or the weekend is over!

A safe place

Childrens' bedrooms should be conducive to sleep - dark, cool, and quiet. Soft bed linen and a warm duvet will ensure that little ones feel safe and warm in their bedroom - this will help keep nightmares and scary thoughts at bay and may comfort them when they wake up - it's not 100% fool proof though so you might still have to check under the bed for monsters occasionally!

It's hard to sleep if you feel cold so think about a pair of soft, warm pajamas as a comforting way to set the tone for bedtime - choose designs that little ones like to curl up in, cotton is great for keeping cool in the summertime and long sleeve designs will keep them warm in the colder months.

Listen to your child if they complain about their pajamas - this is an easy fix! Don't forget to think about their feet, even as an adult this is a part of the body that gets cold. Slippers before bed or a pair of fuzzy socks will keep cold feet at bay.

While a dark room is best, some children feel the need to have a light on. It's best to find a small, localised night light that provides a dull aura rather than the harsh light emitted from the ceiling.

A comfy bed

To help them to get to sleep a comfortable bed and mattress is a necessity. The bed design should be one which fits the child and allows them plenty of room to stretch and wriggle in their dream. For younger children a small cot bed is perfect as it has a side rail to stop them rolling out. As they get bigger, a single 3' bed is perfectly sized.

Adam Black says, "A supportive mattress is essential for sleep whatever age we are. Invest in a mattress which is robust and good quality and this will ensure your child has a good night's sleeps which in turn means a better sleep for you. An open coil mattress is ideal for children, as it is supportive, comfortable enough for you to curl up beside them for a bedtime story and they can withstand the inevitable 'bouncing on the bed'."

Bedtime stories

Within your familiar routine, you will inevitably find story time. It's a great way to draw them away from electronic devices which keep them alert and for you to spend quality time together. Because lights keep children stimulated, it's often a good idea to tell your child the last story in the dark.

Adam Black published his first children's book, 'David the Dinosaur', based on the tales he used to create for his young boys when they wouldn't fall asleep. Creating imaginative stories is a great way to help them fall asleep because you don't need a reading light, and it encourages their imagination and creativity. Whether you make one up or tell them one from memory remember to keep your voice quite and skip tales of the monster who lives under their bed.

Relaxation

Different things relax different people, so you might have to try a few different things until you find the right one for your child. Gentle yoga stretches, lavender, back rubs, listening to soothing music or a gentle audio story book may help your children to wind down as will snuggling up with their favourite cuddly toy or comfort blanket.

Food and drink

David the Dinosaur

We all know that after a turkey dinner we feel tired and lethargic and quite frankly ready for bed. Foods that contain tryptophan trigger a tired response from our bodies and are a good way to start your bedtime routine. We realise that you aren't always going to have turkey on hand but foods such as bananas, yoghurt and milk are much easier to introduce as part of your bedtime routine.

It seems obvious to limit liquids before bedtime, but it's always worth a reminder as kids will often tell you they are thirsty before bed. Giving them a sip or two to wet their whistle is better than leaving a glass beside their bed, especially if they aren't sleeping through the night yet.

 
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