“My biggest parenting conundrum: why it is so hard to put someone who is already sleepy to sleep”
— Chrissy Teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 5, 2016
No truer words were spoken. One of the biggest challenges we face as parents is putting our kids to sleep. For many parents, bedtime for their kids can be a nightmare. We all know that every child needs an adequate amount of sleep – but who can get them to understand this?
Here’s why it’s very important for children to get their required hours of sleep:
- Good sleep promotes growth in children. It is a fact that growth hormones are secreted when babies and children sleep.
- Children who get the required amount of sleep everyday have more energy during the day, are alert and attentive and can concentrate more. This positively affects their cognitive performance.
- Sleep also helps children develop their essential motor skill development.
- When a child gets the required amount of sleep, they are less irritable, less stressed, and are highly motivated.
- Sleep helps protect a child’s cardiovascular health as well.
This is what lack of sleep does to a child:
The obvious outcome when a child does not get adequate sleep at any time is a grumpy and irritable kid. Since a well-rested child has higher attention span, a child who hasn’t slept well has very poor attention span – they do not like to concentrate on anything for a long period of time. Extended periods of lack of sleep for children can lead to more serious issues. Children can experience decreased brain development, suffer from emotional issues and can also face learning problems.
In older children, lack of sleep can affect their daily life and academic performance. It can also take a toll on their mental health.
Symptoms of lack of sleep:
Here’s how you get to know if your child is suffering from a lack of sleep.
- Repeated difficulty waking up from sleep
- Falling off to sleep anytime, anywhere
- Not active and preferring to sleep over doing other activities
- Tired all day
- Yawning all day
- Refusing to eat/loss of appetite
Mental & Emotional Symptoms:
- Not being attentive
- Unable to grasp concepts
- Unable to concentrate
- Increased forgetfulness
- Very grumpy
Tips to put your child to sleep quickly:
A good diet: every child requires a good diet, no doubt about that. And, a good diet definitely plays an important role in ensuring that your child gets a good night’s sleep. Make sure their diet includes lots of fresh vegetables, leafy vegetables and fruits. Few days of observation will also help you understand which food helps put them to sleep better – for example, a dinner of fish and rice fills your toddler’s tummy enough to give her/him a good night’s sleep. If your child is above 6 months then check out our food chart HERE.
Avoid sugary food, caffeine, and junk food at least 3 hours before their bedtime. If you child wants a snack before sleeping, you can offer a glass of milk or a healthy snack such as crackers.
Exercise/playtime: when children get a good amount of exercise throughout the day, they naturally get tired by night and this can ensure they sleep well. So, try to get your child to play/exercise a lot during the day, however, make sure they are not too active very close to their bedtime, this will get them overstimulated.
Bedtime rituals: bedtime rituals such as reading a book before sleeping, or a relaxing bath gets your child prepared for bedtime. Starting the bedtime ritual at least 30 minutes before the actual bedtime helps them get used to the concept of going to bed and develop sleep associations.
Dim the light: create an ideal sleeping environment for your child. Dim the lights or switch on a night lamp, so that they can get relaxed. If your child would like one, then turn on a white noise machine. For older kids, provide them with their favourite blanket or a plushy toy to cuddle and sleep with. If you co-sleep with your child, then lie down next to them and get them relaxed.
Switch off electronics: make sure your child is tuned off from all electronics at least one hour before the bedtime. Remove all gadgets and electronics from their bedroom, to ensure they are not distracted. The light from the electronics can also act as a deterrent to good sleep.
How much sleep do children need?
0-2 months : 16-18 hours
3-12 months : 14-18 hours
1-3 years : 12-14 hours
4-6 years : 11-12 hours
7-12 years : 10-12 hours
13-18 years : 8-10 hours
If you think your child is suffering from sleep issues or disorders, make sure you discuss this with your pediatrician or family health provider. You may also be directed to visit a sleep specialist.
What are the other tips and tricks you follow to make sure your child goes to sleep quickly and with minimal fuss? Let us know in the comments below.