Happy New Year! Now that it’s cold and dark, who doesn’t want to get better sleep? Kids included! It’s been shown that children who don’t get enough sleep display poorer behavior and have more trouble paying attention when it’s time to learn.
It's easy to research sleep training tips, but there are a lot out there, and it’s hard to keep them ALL in mind when you're trying to fix a sleep problem. Your doctor is the first place you should seek advice, but if you're looking for ideas and anecdotal evidence, here's our (very short) list of tips that might help your kids get more sleep. But first, we have two exciting events to tell you about:
On January 13 from 2pm-5pm, Goldfish Swim School in Yorktown Heights is having a Grand Opening Party! A fun afternoon for the whole family featuring open swim, raffles, face painting, balloon animals, refreshments and more. Open Swim times are 2pm-3pm and 3:30pm-4:30pm. Free! If you plan to swim at the event please pre-register. Click here for more info and to RSVP.
For those of you thinking about summer plans, Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale is having a Summer Arts Program Open House. Drop by on January 31 between 7pm and 9pm to hear about this special program that offers instrument classes, musical theatre, chorus, visual arts, and more. The program is for kids in grades 1 to 10 and runs for 5 weeks over the summer as a morning, afternoon, or extended-day time slot. Their staff of musicians and artists will work with you to create a customized weekly program with the perfect mix of classes to meet your child’s interests. Click here for more info.
Rest Assured: Our Favorite Kid Sleep Tips
1. Practice the same routine every night. Kids will know what's coming if you always do bath, book, bed.
2. Make sure there are no noises in your home to wake them up. Not sure? Try recording sound for one night and seeing if any noises sync to them stirring. For all you know, their radiator could come alive every night at 3am. The same goes for light in the morning. Make sure your blackout shades are covering up those morning rays.
3. Think about a child alarm clock. You know, the one with the green light that goes on when it's time to wake up and the red light when it's time to sleep? We found an article with the 10 best here.
4. Do they have enough to soothe them in bed? If they are old enough for a lovey, go for it. And some kids love a sleep sack. Or white noise. Or a mobile. If you have to build a zen spa area with a sound show and colors on the walls in order for them to snooze all night, it’s well worth it!
5. Is their room the correct temperature? Many baby monitors measure the temperature so you can make sure the room is comfortable. But is it stuffy? A fan on low will add white noise and moving air (which is also recommended to protect against SIDS).
6. A toddler pillow can make a difference. Our three-year-old was sleeping with her head on the mattress because a standard-size pillow was too high for her. We got a toddler pillow and now she sleeps like a rock, head square in the middle.
7. Is their mattress the best it can be? Just like you wouldn't want to spend your life on a futon, if you can avoid them sleeping for long stretches in a pack-n-play or other thin sleeping pad, their quality of sleep will improve.
8. Address the cosleep issue. It's everyone's personal decision, but if you plan to transition them to their own bed by age 4, it might be easier to move them in before they are old enough to realize they could have it any other way. You also have to consider everyone's quality of sleep. Are you waking them up, or are they waking you up? A good night's sleep is so important to their mood, health, and brain development. Take that into account when you're deciding who sleeps where. It might not be as cuddly and secure, but if you all sleep better when they are in their own room, it might be worth the payoff.
9. Don't neglect naps. The better they nap during the day, the better they sleep at night. Most pediatricians agree if you skimp on much-needed naps, they may not sleep through the night either. Just like you have a bed routine, try to make a small nap routine so they understand it’s time to wind down.
10. Don't get conned into running a 24-hour diner. Most pediatricians will also tell you that by about 6 months, babies no longer need a nighttime feeding. There are several ways to wean them off this habit, so talk to your doctor.
11. Hit the reset button. If they wake up and you can't figure out what's wrong, try restarting the sleep process. Change their diaper, put them in a different sleep outfit and swaddle or sleep sack, and put them down in a different spot in the bed. Feel their body to see if they are running hot or cold, and adjust the thermostat accordingly. Turn the music or white noise up or down. Change it up and you might fix whatever is bothering them.
12. Tell them what you expect from them during the night. This is a tip for toddlers and older kids. Try a simple conversation during the day where you say things like, "At nighttime, everyone is sleeping. If you wake up, stay in bed and lay still. You'll feel better if you close your eyes until you fall back asleep." Or give them a coping strategy like humming a song or trying a new position to sleep in, or setting up a stuffed animal to hug if they wake up. Then reinforce this training at night. I'm personally not above bribing to get the results I want.
13. Is it time to drop the baby monitor? For our four-year-old, it might be doing more harm than good. She knows we can hear and see her through it so she interacts with it when she might otherwise try to get back to sleep on her own. She's also recently decided the infrared light on it is scary, and she doesn't like when the camera moves. It might be time to ditch Big Brother and let her sleep without surveillance.
14. Don’t change too much at once. Our two-year-old just lost his crib privileges (his crime: trying to climb out of the crib). Now he’s in a toddler bed and he is not happy about it. We were having trouble getting him to bed at first, but we realized it was because we took away his pacifier and sleep sack, and added a blanket, and changed his bed all in one week. He didn’t know hope to cope with the new routine. Once we realized, we added back in the sleep sack and paci, and now going to sleep feels familiar again. He’s sleeping like he used to, and we now know that if we need to change the routine, take it one thing at a time.
That's it for this week. Don’t forget to check out our exclusive list of every children's library program in Westchester. Many programs are on winter hiatus, so be sure to check the library’s calendar to be sure the event you want to attend is still happening.
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See you next time!