This week an article discussing the long-term importance of sleep for toddlers popped up on my radar and it made me think… The article talked about how irregularities in bed times at the age of three can affect the cognitive development of a child and becomes most evident when they are seven and taking maths tests. Not only did I think this was a bold claim, can your sleeping pattern four years earlier really make that much difference? But it made me think about how easy is it to get your toddlers to sleep and to sleep regularly and in a routine and through the night. I’ve put together some top tips based on research and also through speaking to parents about their experiences.
1. Bedtime Rituals
This seems to be an absolute favourite in all sorts of articles and also with parents that I spoke to. If you can initiate and implement a routine which includes the main components of your ‘going to bed’ routine such as: bath, brushing teeth, story time, a snuggle, bed time, etc. in it, then it is meant to increase the chance of children falling asleep and keeping a pattern. Children love patterns and regularity, it makes them feel safe and secure and a relaxed child is much more likely to not only fall asleep quickly but to also sleep well!
2. Regular bed time and wake-up times
These are another favourite! Apparently if you create bed times and wake up times that are adhered too by all members of the family, it reiterates the feeling of regularity and routine for children, making sleeping a lot less daunting. The slightly strange thing to think about is that even on weekends when you don’t have anything (too pressing) to get up for you, try to still adhere to your wake-up times. Perhaps push them back a bit but don’t forget about them entirely, because if the kids sleep in then they won’t go to bed so easily!
3. A bedtime snack!
Little bodies need lots of fuel and it can be pretty hard for them to sleep if they’re running on empty. Therefore always remember to have a little snack of something healthy handy that can become incorporated into their daily bedtime routine.
ps. make sure it’s not too bulky because a full tummy can hinder sleep as well!
4. Be Persistent!
Don’t give up. Keep going with the bedtime routine. Apparently it takes around two weeks for them to learn it but can take as little as a day for it to all become undone. So when they’re really pushing it for “one last thing” or “please, just this time”, remind your self of your long term goal – for you to sleep and for them to develop cognitively (well you’ve got nothing to lose if it does make a difference!)
I hope it is of some help, do let us know what techniques you use to get you through the night!