By Anneri van Rooyen – Good Night Sleep Consultant
Creating a sleep-friendly environment for your child is an essential factor to provide a good night’s rest. Children take time to fall asleep; it depends on how sleepy they feel after their bedtime routine and if their naps during the day were successful. It is vital to ensure that their daytime routines and bedtime routines assist in setting the stage for a good night’s rest. If you are sure that your routine is perfect and that your child’s tummy is full, you also need to consider what your child’s sleeping environment is like, as it also has to be conducive to sleep. Let’s look at a few factors that might play a role:
Setting the stage for sleep
You need to ensure that your child knows that his/her room is for sleeping only. Try to teach your child that their room is a place of relaxation; create a calm and safe space where they know that they can relax. If their room is too engaging and used as a play area, your child will not understand why he/she cannot play when it is time for a nap.
Creating a relaxing atmosphere for bedtime includes making sure no screens are emitting blue light. This consists of any screens, tablets, or monitors emitting blue light like some video monitors do. This light interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleepy hormone. This can cause your child to struggle to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Please note it is not the colour of the light that matters but rather any LED’s that can emit blue or white light.
Light influences sleep; thus, it is vital to ensure that no light enters the room. Any light shining in from outside will also most likely cause your child to wake up early as it will cause melatonin production to stop. To ensure that this does not happen, invest in blackout curtains or adhesives that you stick to your window to ensure no light peeking through the curtains.
Some toddlers do have night time fears, and this is where a night light comes in handy. Having any light in the room does prevent melatonin production, which is why you have to ensure that you install a natural light if you decide to use a night light. Natural light includes night lights like Himalayan salt lamps (non-LED globes to be used). If you have an older child that can understand more advanced concepts, you can also get a clock that shows you when it is time to wake up. A watch makes it easy for children to know when it is time to get out of bed.
If you have a noisy environment or multiple children in the house, then using white noise would be beneficial, both during the day and at night. White noise will drown out outside noises and helps your baby not to wake up from birds chirping in the early hours of the morning.
Aromatherapy oils can provide a soothing atmosphere for your child, and may help their little brains relax if they smell a particular scent such as lavender; this helps set the stage for sleep. You can use an aromatherapy oil diffuser in your child’s room during the bedtime routine or use a diluted oil to apply to their body.
Always keep safety in mind when it comes to your child’s sleeping space. Keep loose bedding that your child could get entangled in to a minimum and if you have a child under the age of one year, please keep the risk factors of SIDS in mind. Invest in top quality materials such as cotton or hemp that regulate body temperature. Natural fibres do not cause your child to overheat and is breathable for those hot summer months. Give your child a comfort item such as a taglet (not under 6 months of age) to hold onto as a sustainable sleep association. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius, so dress your child accordingly and adjust the room temperature if possible.
If your child is old enough to reach for his/ her bottle, do not leave a bottle of milk beside their bed. It is essential to keep safety in mind as they can choke while lying down and drinking, and it also causes tooth decay. Please ensure that your child eats and feeds during the day so that he/she does not make up for lost calories at night.
Many factors play a role when it comes to sleep. Creating a healthy sleep environment is one of the building blocks that you need to have in place for your child to sleep like a superhero. Please contact us at www.goodnightbaby.co.za if you need further information or a FREE consultation for us to assess your unique circumstances.