Tips for helping your child sleep

    Toddler sleeping in bed
    Credit: iStock

    Is your little one not the best sleeper? A few adjustments can make all the difference – here’s nine tips you might want to try at home

    The new school year is fast approaching, making it even more important for your child (and you!) to get a good night’s rest. Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories – brought to you by the same award-winning team behind online game Moshi Monsters – has released a new story to help you all prepare for that first day back.

    The app, which is free to download on either tablet or smartphone, includes specially-designed audio tales of soothing narration and soundscapes that help kids drop off into the land of nod. Blurp the Batty Bubblefish tells the tale of Blurp, who is getting ready to go back to school and see his friends and teachers, and preparing to wake up that little bit earlier again. It’s designed to be played right before that final ‘lights out’ moment, so the dreamy melodies, calming narration and guided relaxations can really get to work.

    To mark the new story, Moshi have teamed up with sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, who has put together her nine top tips for helping your child sleep in the run up to the new school year (or at any other time that sleep problems arise!)…

    READ MORE: Is your toddler ready to move out of his cot?

    1. Establish a routine two weeks before school starts

    To help your child get to bed earlier, set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and every morning, an incrementally earlier wake-up time. Make sure that when school starts, they’ll wake up with the amount of sleep they need for their age-group:

    • 3-5 year olds – need 11-13 hours
    • 6-9 year olds – need 10-11 hours and are more tired from school so are ready for bed by 7.30pm
    • From 10 years old – need around nine hours for good daytime alertness

    2. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine

    Before bedtime, allow a period of quiet time to allow your child to unwind. Doing this consistently every evening is key; children thrive on routines, which are vital for setting the path to deep, restful sleep. When they go back to school their day will be one big routine!

    3. Stick with the schedule

    Once your child’s sleep schedule is established, stick with it! Don’t use the weekend to play ‘catch up’ with sleep.

    4. Avoid big meals close to bedtime

    A heavy meal may prevent your child from falling asleep.  However, a small protein-rich snack such as peanut butter on a cracker and a glass of milk (dairy or almond) can help optimise melatonin production.

    5. Manage technology an hour before bedtime

    Limit exposure to television, video games, and other over-stimulating electronic activities before bed.

    6. Avoid caffeine

    Sodas and other caffeinated drinks should be limited as an after-school treat and especially at night. If consumed after noon, caffeine can interrupt your child’s natural sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep.

    7. The perfect sleep story

    Allow your child to drift off to sleep with audio sleep stories playing in their bedroom. One of my favourite apps for this is Moshi Twilight. Listening to a variety of stories and music is essential, a new story might be a nice treat but an old favourite might be just what they need to drift off effortlessly. There’s even a sleep story specifically for children worried about going back to school that helps relieve anxiety before the start of the new term.

    8. Create a sleep sanctuary

    The bedroom environment should be peaceful and this might mean a dark room with some low level lighting, a comfortable bed, and a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Ask your child what they need to help them feel peaceful and secure in their bedroom at night.

    9. Be the change

    Set a good example for your child. Establish your own regular sleep cycle and maintain a home that promotes healthy sleep.  This means having healthy boundaries around technology in the home – times and areas where you can and can’t use technology.  For example, you might start a campaign in your own home to ban technology from the bedrooms and at mealtimes.  Make a point of telling your children how you are using technology more consciously and healthfully yourself.

    READ MORE: How long does it take the average toddler to fall asleep?

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