sleep tips for kids

Tips For Promoting and Keeping Positive Sleeping Habits in Kids
Tips For Promoting and Keeping Positive Sleeping Habits in Kids 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Promoting positive sleeping habits in children early on is crucial to their mental and physical health. In fact, it has been proven that getting an inefficient amount of sleep can have a negative impact on a child’s happiness, cognitive performance, mood, learning, memory, motor skill development, and so much more. If you’ve found that you’re having a hard time getting your kiddos into bed on time, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, many parents struggle to help their children form positive sleeping habits, due to the fact that they just don’t know where to start.

That’s where we come in. Our incredible PTN therapists have put together some insightful tips to share with you this month in honor of Sleep Awareness Week (March 14-20), that can help promote and keep positive sleeping habits in your kiddos moving forward. From practicing consistency to using visual schedules – here are some of our favorite tips to help your little ones form positive sleeping habits:

Establish a Consistent Bedtime and Naptime

Consistency is key when it comes to promoting healthy sleeping habits. When you put your child to bed or down for a nap at the same time each day, they eventually become familiar with their schedule and will be able to fall asleep more easily. It’s important to create a routine that works for you, your child, and any caregivers that are helping you out. One last thing that you’ll want to keep in mind when setting a sleep schedule is to ensure that your child is meeting the recommended amount of sleep each night (by age), according to the National Sleep Foundation:

  • 0-3 Months Old: 14-17 hours
  • 4-11 Months Old: 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 Years Old: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 Years Old: 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 Years Old: 9-11 hours

Use Sleep Cues That Target Different Sensory Systems

Another great tip from our therapists is to use sleep cues that focus on different sensory systems. There are certain things that you can do to relax your body simply by targeting your senses. For example, for auditory you can turn on white noise, for tactile cover up with a soft blanket, for visual you can hang black out curtains to block out any light, for olfactory you could use lavender lotion on your skin, for vestibular you can rock your child while they’re falling asleep, for proprioceptive you can swaddle your child or have them use a weighted blanket, and for oral you could have your child drink water from a cup using a straw before bed.

Implement Visual Schedules

Our final tip to promote positive sleeping habits is to use visual schedules as a part of your child’s bedtime routine. Visual schedules can help toddlers establish a clear understanding of bedtime routine and what expectations are in place. For example, your child’s visual schedule should focus on the routine that they’ll follow when getting ready for bed. Some items you may want to include as part of their schedule are taking a bath, putting on PJ’s, brushing and flossing, reading a bedtime story, and finally, going to bed. 

Happy Sleep Awareness Week! 

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month long for more helpful sleep tips, or feel free to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. As always, our team is here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

National Sleep Awareness Week
3 Core Tenants of Better Sleep for Your Child
3 Core Tenants of Better Sleep for Your Child 1000 1000 PTN Chicago

This month, the National Sleep Foundation celebrates its annual Sleep Awareness Week from March 10 to March 16. If you’re a parent, you know better than anyone the value of a great night’s sleep, both for your little ones and for yourself.

Sleep can be a major source of stress for parents at every stage. Whether you have an infant who’s kept up by reflux or a toddler who absolutely insists upon sleeping in your bed every night, a disrupted sleep routine can make it harder for both you and your child to have a good next day.

While specific sleep recommendations can vary widely depending upon your parenting philosophy, the age of your child, and any developmental issues that you might be dealing with, here are a few helpful broad truths from our occupational therapists that can help both you and your child get the sleep you need.

It’s All About a Consistent Routine

When children know what to expect, it helps them feel secure and makes it easier to regulate their emotions. One of the best ways to start the night on the right foot is by establishing a clear and consistent bedtime routine. Your routine can evolve as your children get older, and there isn’t any specific routine that is “the right way.” Do what works for you and your child.

For example, some parents like to incorporate bath time into the bedtime routine, but if you’re traveling or already took a bath earlier in the day or got home later than you expected, a bath isn’t always an option. Personally, I like to keep things simple – jammies, brush teeth, story time, goodnight hugs, and then into bed for a few lullabies. A routine like this takes about twenty minutes, which is plenty of time to help your little one calm down, get into a sleepy mood, and drift off without complaint.

Getting Mad and Being Firm are Two Different Things

Of course, as perfect as your bedtime routine is, there will still inevitably be nights when your child simply does not want to go to sleep. If you’re dealing with a nighttime tantrum, the most important thing that you can do is keep your cool. Listen to what your child is saying and repeat their feelings back to them so they know that you are listening. Then do your best to explain why sleep is so important and how your child will feel better after they get some rest. When possible, give your child the opportunity to do one last thing they want to do before going to sleep.

But when it comes down to it, you may need to set boundaries and stick to them. Being firm doesn’t require yelling or being abrasive in any way. On the contrary, it requires patience and consistency.

The Best Way to Sleep Train is the Way that Works for You

There are plenty of “experts” in the world of child development who will tell you that there is only one right way to sleep train. That’s bologna. The way to sleep train is to wait until you feel emotionally ready, to pick a method that makes sense to you, and stick to it. In most cases, successful sleep training takes less than a week, but that can be a very difficult week. Talk to other parents. Talk to your partner. Talk to your pediatrician, and talk to your occupational therapist. Just don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you HAVE TO do things a certain way. The only thing you have to do is listen to your parenting instincts and follow through.

For more information specific to your child about setting up a peaceful sleep environment, breaking bad sleeping habits, and how sleep and occupational therapy overlap, give our office a call. We are always happy to help in any way that we can.

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