The summer holidays are over and for many of our children, we’re going to need to ease them slowly back into a solid bedtime routine.
We should not underestimate the importance of sleep for our little ones. Studies show that kids who get the right amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, and overall health – both mentally and physically.
Children who do not get enough sleep can have high blood pressure, obesity, and depression.
Incorporating a good sleep pattern in children is heavily emphasised from birth, but changes in routine can affect the way our children sleep, and going back to school after six weeks off can be confusing for children, especially little ones.
Don’t panic. Even if your child’s sleep pattern is all over the place at the moment, we can help. Here are our top tips for bedtime routines for children.
Bedtime routines are really important for children and adults, because over time they tell our bodies it is time to go to sleep. You should have the same bedtime routine every night, and it might include actions such as taking a bath, putting on pyjamas, and reading a bedtime story. When your child sees these things happen, they will know it is almost time for bed. Subconsciously, their body will know the same, and will release important hormones to get the body ready to go to sleep.
The important thing to remember when developing a bedtime routine is that it should mean your child can go to sleep without your intervention, so don’t incorporate anything into it like rocking or watching TV, as if your child wakes up in the night, they’re going to need these activities in order to go to sleep again.
You might feel like it’s too late for this, but it is never too late. From now on, your bedtime routine should be the same every night, and should happen at the same time, whether your child is off for the summer holidays or not. For example, your toddler’s bedtime routine might start at 6:30pm and include a bath, pyjamas, a bottle of milk and a chat, then a final goodnight. It should be the same every single night.
Keep it short. Your bedtime routine with your child shouldn’t really last more than half an hour, or else you are far less likely to stick to it, and might start skipping out steps.
Your child does not get to choose what time their bedtime routine starts or how long it lasts, but giving them some choices might excite them for bedtime and help encourage them to start. For example, perhaps your child can choose which bubbles they have in their bath, what books you read to them, or which pyjamas they get to wear. Kids love feeling at last a little bit in control, so this is a good way to get them excited about bedtime.
Kids are a little bit afraid of the dark, we understand that, but it is quite important that your child’s bedroom is dark, especially in the summer when it is light outside. Blackout blinds and shades are a good way to do this, or thick curtains. Use these alongside a nightlight to control the amount of light in your child’s bedroom whatever time of year it is.
Now for the ‘do nots’. Don’t allow your child to take part in activities that make them hyperactive before bed, as this will get them over excited and make it more difficult for them to sleep.
Don’t assume that your child will outgrow their bad sleep habits. They won’t. Your children need your guidance and encouragement, so help them towards healthy behaviours.
Don’t create poor sleep associations by rocking them, or letting them fall asleep with the television on or music playing. This will mean that if they wake up they need your help to drift back off.
Don’t let your child dictate the rules. They’ll try, especially at first, but be consistent, and eventually your child will realise there is no point in arguing with you on this.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of the sleep environment. Your child might be warm and sweaty when they sleep, and unable to tell you. If you can, opt for a natural mattress that helps them breathe.
The Ely Mattress is naturally hypoallergenic and fire resistant, and comes with a thirty night sleep trial. Made from wool, horse hair, and cotton, it helps to regulate temperature, and stops sweating, which can be a breeding ground for mould.
For more information about our mattress and how healthy it is for your little one, please read about our thirteen layers.