Being a parent can be extremely tiring (the understatement of the century) and sleep an elusive friend. But choosing an approach that will help your child to sleep through the night is often both confusing and difficult (especially when you are sleep deprived). Bedding specialist, Sleepypeople.com caught up with some of the best sleep experts out there to ask them for their top tips on helping children to sleep.
1. Kim West, The Sleep Lady
My best tip for parents is simple: choose the sleep coaching method that best fits your parenting style and your child’s temperament. Then be consistent!
2. Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny
Avoid over-tiredness. It might seem rational to think that if you wear your child out enough during the day, he will surely sleep well that night, The opposite is true. An overtired child is less likely to settle, have more night awakenings and be prone to early rising (I class anything before 6am as early rising).
3. Judy Clark, BabyWinkz
Put your baby down AWAKE so that they learn to fall asleep independently without the use of props, such as a dummy or bottle. Helping your baby to learn how to sleep soundly and independently is a gift you can bestow that not only encourages healthy development, but also a happy, well rested child.
4. Tizzie Hall, Save Our Sleep
Always feed your baby until your baby is full. Once your milk has come in, never restrict the amount of time your baby drinks at the breast or if you are bottle-feeding, never give your baby a set amount of milk. If your baby drinks the bottle, offer your baby more milk if they want it.
5. Maryanne Taylor, Child Sleep Works
Be consistent when handling wake ups. If your child gets different responses, this will confuse and frustrate them, thereby increasing crying. To keep frustration levels to a minimum, choose an approach that feels right for you and your child and follow it through consistently.
6. Helen Packham, The Family Sleep Coach
Little ones like predictability and stability, so an age-appropriate day routine with the right amount of naps is crucial to pave the way for sound slumbers at night. This prevents the release of cortisol and the possibility of your child becoming wired and overtired at bedtime, which can lead to restless sleep and early rising.
7. Andrea Elovson, Sleepy Bug
Avoid too late a bedtime. Children who are up past their body’s natural bedtime quickly become over-tired and wired. This makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep at bedtime and stay asleep overnight. Familiarise yourself with recommended bedtimes for your child’s age and do your best to make it happen whenever possible.
8. Dee Booth, Sleep Fairy & Parent Rescue
Let babies, toddlers and children learn to calm down independently. Some babies find it harder to calm themselves than others, and some are very strong-willed, but they will all eventually learn. However, they won’t learn to calm down independently if they aren’t given the chance to try.
9. Lyndsey Hookway, Little Sleepers
For newborns, try to remember that they have been tightly held in your womb, protected from light, cold air and noise, rocked by your movements, never put down and surrounded by white noise. They can’t just adapt overnight! So try to recreate a womb-like environment to help them adapt and feel safe. Try white noise, a Sleepyhead, leave something with your smell on and dim the lights.
10. Kavitha Nair, Baby Sleep Coach
Respect daytime sleep and make naps a priority. Getting enough sleep during the day will help their brains grow and develop. Skipping naps will only lead to more night waking. Every baby will have its own sleep cues. It is therefore important to know what your baby’s unique signal is and put them down when they are tired.
Help your baby learn the fundamental skills of good sleep when he is still very young and programmed for frequent sleep. Slowly teach him that a bath and being quietly dressed means it’s nearly time to sleep. Gradually teach your baby to settle himself to sleep so he doesn’t rely on a cuddle from you, a long feed, or rocking to drift off. And support him as he learns that night-time is for rest and, should he wake, he should go back to sleep.
Crack all these and, by the age of six months, there’s every chance that your baby – and you – will be getting a good nights’ sleep.
12. Emily-Jane Clark, Stolen Sleep
If you have a baby that will not sleep no matter what, the best thing you can do is to stop worrying about it! Your baby will learn to sleep through the night eventually, so stock up on coffee and wait for it to pass. Take it from me, it will.