The value of sleep may seem obvious to you, as you are currently struggling with sleep deprivation. There are some additional benefits for your child’s sleep that you may want to consider:
1) Sleep is necessary for neurological development
2) Children who sleep more have been found to
- have higher IQ scores,
- demonstrate an easier temperament,
- are more alert during awake hours,
- are able to concentrate and have longer attention spans when awake,
- are able to reach developmental milestones,
- are more independent,
- and show improvements in peer relationships
3) Children who are diagnosed with learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been shown to have sleep-related difficulties
4) Parents are well rested and have more energy
Not only is sleep important, but the quality of sleep that your child is getting is just as significant. Children of different ages require a specific amount of consecutive and uninterrupted night sleep and daytime sleep. It is important to have your child sleep at the times that they are biologically intended to sleep according to their circadian rhythms.
Sleep Tips for Infants
1) Recognize your child’s sleep cues. They might rub their eyes, or have a far off stare. Try to put them to bed at this time before they get cranky. It may be harder for your infant to fall asleep if you missed the initial sleep cues and they are now crying.
2) Assist your infant with recognizing the difference between night and day.
3) Implement a soothing bedtime routine that you will use every night so that your child will know that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
4) Daytime naps are just as important as night sleep. Make sure that your infant is taking their daytime naps at developmentally appropriate times. The better their naps are during the day, the more they will sleep at night.
Sleep Tips for Toddlers
1) Set a soothing sleep routine and bedtime that your family will use every night. Children love predictability, and they feel like they are more in control of their sleep.
2) Have your child choose a set number of books to be read. Children have many sleep “stall tactics” that they are equipped with, including books.
3) Avoid TV or stimulating music right before bed.
4) Provide your child with a small cup of water or milk (only 3 oz.). Cut down on fluids and sugar before bedtime. Make sure they use the bathroom before bed.
5) Your child may benefit from room darkening shades or white noise such as a fan or humidifier.
6) Any changes to your child’s sleep routine, such as a new room, new bed, or a new sibling sharing the room, are a big deal for your toddler. Try to ease the transition by talking to your child about these changes in a positive manner. Use verbal and/or physical rewards if necessary.