Parenting Lesson 16 - Sleep & Children

Topics covered in this lesson-

  1. Should we make children sleep with parents

  2. Making your demanding child sleep without walking her in your lap

  3. How can I help my child sleep through the night?

Should we make children sleep with parents

Depends on you! Children often sleep alongside parents or siblings as they are growing up. This practice is termed “co-sleeping”, and typically, it occurs on a nightly basis for an extended period of time: weeks, months, or in some cases, years. Many families find co-sleeping a good way spend time together and bond as a family, or to reduce their child’s stress around falling asleep or waking during the night. It is also popular among breastfeeding mothers during their child’s infancy.

While sharing a bed might ease pressures on families while children are very young, the habit of co-sleeping can pose problems as children mature. By the time their children are 2 – 2 1/2 years old, most parents will be eager to have them sleep easily through the night in their own beds.

Below are some key drawbacks of co-sleeping with your child

  • Extended co-sleeping can discourage children from achieving what’s known as “night time independence”. Children with night time independence are confident that they can fall asleep on their own, and know how to comfort themselves if they are stressed or anxious around sleep – key steps in healthy emotional development.

  • Frequently, pre-school and school-aged children have fitful sleep cycles. Having a child kicking, tossing and turning in their bed can interrupt parents’ sleep, leading to exhaustion and stress throughout the day.

  • Parental intimacy is often compromised when their children sleep with them. This can have a detrimental effect on a couple’s relationship, affecting communication and physical closeness.

Making your demanding child sleep without walking her in your lap

There is no quick fix in making this habit of your child go away. Some parents tend to walk their kid to make them sleep in early days which becomes a problematic habit later on.

Some of the things you need to do to make your child sleep without the routine of walking her in your lap.

  • Create a bedtime routine like reading books, telling stories, create a sleep environment like dimming lights, etc.

  • Make a sleep schedule: try to follow a sleep schedule to make your child sleep easily

  • Make sure she urinates or passes stools if needed before sleeping

  • Create a forward momentum like go to washroom, lay down on bed, dim the lights, listen to stories

  • Say No to the demands of walking her in your lap: it will take few tough days but you will thank later

How can I help my child sleep through the night?

1. Make a plan

Write up a bedtime ritual, if you have an infant, it might be as simple as singing a song and narrating the stories. If you have a toddler or an older child, ask them what they like to do. Let them decide which books you will read together. You can make a sequence to ensure continuity like- Put on pajamas, brush teeth, read books, cuddle, lights out, and then sleep

2. Time together

Generally, kids become unsettled at bedtime because they’re longing for more attention from their caretakers or parents. When a kid having working parents, they get parents' attention in the evening. In this case, we can spend a few minutes asking kids questions about their day or telling them things you’ve noticed about them can be a nice ritual. For babies, spend 5 or 10 minutes cuddling and playing with them.

3. Shutting down the gadgets

Electronic gadgets with screens are a bad idea before bed, especially for children because their light stimulates the brain. kids should turn off screens at least one to two hours before bed. Switching off the screen before bed can have other positive impacts like, Kids will be more active, burning through their natural physical energy, which makes it easier to settle down at bedtime.

4. Initiate learning

Try creative ways to help younger kids who can’t tell time We can help attaining positive ways that can initiate learning as well as sleep learns like using a special clock that changes color at the appropriate sleep and wake times. Reward kids for responding to the clock at correct time.

6. Ensure the proper hygiene

It’s also important to practice good sleep hygiene by using a clean bed for resting. Make sure toys and distractions are cleaned up before sleep time, or store them in another area of the house. Creating a strong sleep association with the bed and bedroom makes it easier to fall asleep there.

7. Restless nights

If your child is having a hard time at night, it’s important to figure out if it’s from night terrors, sleepwalking or nightmares.

Nightmares are bad dreams that occur during REM sleep, and they are common in people of all ages. The distinguishing feature of a nightmare is that the dreamer will remember it. If your child had a nightmare or didn’t sleep well the night before, you can ask them about it in the morning. If they can talk about a bad dream, you can help them come up with some alternative endings or some other images to focus on instead. Explain that nightmares are a product of their imagination, and reassure them that they’re safe.