October 31st, 2020

Helping children get sufficient sleep


By Submitted Article on July 22, 2020.

Amanda Poll

ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES

We all know that sleep is important – and for anyone who has children in their care, you know that sleep is not always easy to get! Children of all ages need plenty of sleep to grow and develop.

During the summer months, it is common for children to have more disrupted sleep schedules. As we prepare for our children to go back to school, it is important to know that school-age children may have trouble learning and developing socially if they don’t get enough sleep. Preparing for the routine of school should also include looking at your family’s sleep routines. Here are some helpful tips to help get you and your family sleep well.

Helping Baby Sleep Well

– At night, set up a soothing routine. Give baby a bath, sing lullabies, or read a book.

– When baby is getting sleepy, put baby in his or her crib in a quiet, darkened room. This will help baby learn to go to sleep in his or her crib.

– Try to feed your hungry newborn when he or she starts to wake up and is still calm. If you respond before your newborn gets upset, he or she will feed and go back to sleep easier.

– Periods of murmuring and restlessness every 50 to 60 minutes are a normal part of a baby sleep cycle. The restlessness usually lasts a few minutes. If you leave baby alone, he or she will likely fall back to sleep.

– If baby wakes up and doesn’t settle down, check to see if he or she is hungry or needs a diaper change. Feed or change baby quietly. Keep the light low. Don’t play with or sing to baby. Put him or her back in the crib as soon as you can.

– Try to stay calm. Young children are very sensitive to a parent’s feelings of frustration.

Helping Older Children Sleep Well

– Set up a bedtime routine to help your child get ready for bed and sleep. For example, read together, cuddle, and listen to soft music for 15 to 30 minutes before you turn out the lights. Do things in the same order each night so your child knows what to expect.

– Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Children who have consistent and regular bedtimes are less likely to have behaviour problems.

– Keep TVs and computers out of your child’s room.

– Limit activities that stimulate your child (playing/watching TV) in the hours closer to bedtime.

– If your child wakes up and calls for you in the middle of the night, make your response the same each time. Offer quick comfort, but then leave the room.

There are many factors that can impact a child’s sleep. For example, night terrors, sleep walking and health problems may negatively impact his/her ability to get a restful night’s sleep. Talk to your child’s doctor if your child often has trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.

Regardless of age, everyone needs sleep to remain happy and healthy. For more information about the importance of sleep for the whole family, as well as tips to improve sleep for everyone in your household, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca.

Amanda Poll is a Health Promotion Facilitator in Young Family Wellness with Alberta Health Services. She can be reached by email, Amanda.poll@ahs.ca.

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