Like every other parent, you are probably frustrated by the unpredictable nature of sleep in children. You wonder why you cannot always make your baby sleep with relative ease.
Then you can have the much-needed break from diapers, the unending demands for attention, and of course, routine crying.
There are important reasons you will want to make your baby sleep other than only having time for yourself.
It is only during sleep that children undergo a whole set of complex biological activities such as physical body growth and cognitive development.
When sound asleep (especially at night) children experience tremendous bouts of body growth in height and weight, repair, reset, and detoxification.
Research also shows how good sleep helps children to fight off germs, and neutralize heart-related problems.
On the other hand, sleep deprivation is linked to increased levels of brain arousal, higher levels of cortisol, and a precursor to medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and allergies.
Insufficient hours of sleep can also make your child less productive during the day and can increase the likelihood he may develop social and behavioral disorders later in life.
Whereas the average sleeping hours for adults is 7 – 8, up to 16 hours is recommended for toddlers and 11 hours for 12-year-olds. Teenagers can get by with anything between 8 and 9 hours.
Of course, more hours is always better.
How to make your baby sleep
Making your baby sleep may not seem like a big deal if you are available 24 – 7. But again, who of us is available at all in this age of technology and the treacherous hustles of life?
We work a lot and when free we urgently want to binge on our smartphones.
For these and other reasons, the desire is always there to have our babies go to sleep every time we want them to. This may involve lots of tricks, most of which rotate around getting them tired.
When tired the brain of your baby wants nothing else but an opportunity to put the head down.
The following 6 hacks should help you to fight sleep deprivation and make your baby sleep better, and faster:
1. Use the S’s of sleep to sooth your child’s motor senses
In order to help your child transition from wakefulness to sleep, you may want to start by decreasing the levels of cortisol hormone in the body. The hormone is helpful in keeping your child awake and always eager to explore his motor senses.
One way to get this done is through lowering sensory activities in the brain. This is done by singing for your child, his favorite lullaby.
Yes, singing is a powerful antidote to make your child forget everything else and totally calm down.
The other S-s of sleep can be achieved through the following soothing hacks:
- stomach position
Swing your child through rocking, wrap her in a blanket, shush her in memory of the womb environment, let her suck, and position her in her favorite sleeping position on the side of the stomach.
By using all or some of these hacks, you will surely make your baby sleep.
2. Let him explore the outdoors
If your plan is to have your child sleep early and for long at night, create a daily routine to have them explore the outdoors.
Oftentimes, kids are locked indoors and remain sedentary most of the day because parents believe they are protecting them from the unpredictable world outdoors.
This is wrong and is irrespective of the age of your child. Every child deserves the right to get out and become part of nature outside the house. Even the very little ones want to experience the beauty of fresh air and a new environment.
Plenty of playtimes will tire them down and prepare their bodies for a good night’s sleep.
In a research conducted by Yvonne Harrison at Liverpool John Moores University,
Babies who slept well at night were exposed to significantly more light in the early afternoon period.
If your child remains seated indoors and binges on TVs most of the day he is more than likely to take unnecessary naps during the day. By night-time, he will be wide awake and hardly interested in sleep.
Even when he makes up his mind to sleep, your child may struggle to REALLY sleep and will wake up frequently throughout the night.
Beware though not to overdo this simply because you want to get your child tired. He should stick to what his body can handle. Excesses in physical activity may lead to body tears and extreme fatigue.
3. Create an ideal sleeping environment
The timing, temperature, noise, comfort, EMF, and lighting in the bedroom, all play different roles in ensuring that your child sleeps well or not.
If your baby spends the better part of the day playing, he should shower and eat nutritious food an hour before going to bed.
Secondly, your child should have the privilege of sleeping in the same bedroom every day. A similar environment is good for the brain and peace of mind.
It is comforting for your child to wake up in a familiar bedroom, and not have to adjust to new sleeping environments every other night.
Also ensure that the bedroom where your child sleeps is comfy and quiet, with optimal temperature. Extreme heat in the bedroom is known to lead to dehydration, heat cramps, exhaustion, and a tendency to fall sick frequently.
Extreme cold can escalate allergic reactions, and lead to complications such as hypothermia, hives, trench foot, and Raynaud’s phenomenon. your child can also develop pneumonia, and frequent colds, and flu.
The bedroom should also be dark enough in order to stimulate the right amounts of hormone release. When you consistently ensure the bedroom is dark enough during sleep you are teaching your child that darkness is for sleep and light is for wakefulness.
Turn off light from the electric bulb and computing devices such as cell phones, laptops, gaming consoles, and the TV screen.
According to NCBI,
The widespread use of portable electronic devices and the normalization of screen media devices in the bedroom is accompanied by a high prevalence of insufficient sleep, affecting a majority of adolescents, and 30% of toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children.
For unforeseen reasons, sing for your child his popular lullabies or tell sweat stories to get them to sleep.
4. Serve REAL meals
Make it a point to serve your child nutritious meals sometime before bedtime.
For starters, he should eat early enough before he can go to bed: an hour or so before bedtime is good enough. Try to stick to this routine and your child will tag along just fine.
Or else, you risk dealing with a baby who is feeling sleepy and therefore unable to eat. On a more serious note having your child eat just before sleep may disrupt digestion and lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal issues, discomfort, and even weight gain.
You should also make sure not to overfeed your child or indulge in junk food.
Whereas temptations are rife to try out a variety of snacks just before bedtime, always insist on real food to ensure your child can sleep well and for long hours.
This is important if you do not want your child not to wake up frequently.
The foods children eat must have plenty of protein and nutrients instead of simple carbs and sugars. Meals that are inclusive of veggies, whole grains, milk, fruits, eggs, beans, should be served instead of processed junkies such as candy, fruit snacks, fries, and cola.
According to Nancy Z. Farrell, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
While he snoozes, his bones are growing and his brain is processing all that he learned during the day … Nutritious foods help foster good sleep patterns.
5. No screen-time before & bed-time
The use and storage of electronic devices in the bedroom are known to cause sleep deprivation in children because they are addictive and disruptive.
Smartphone and laptop screens, in particular, emit blue light which is known to interfere with the sleep/wake cycle and biological clock.
The blue light from the screens can hinder the pineal gland from releasing the melatonin hormone which is crucial in fostering the right balance of the sleep-wake cycle.
Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.SleepFoundation
The first step in fighting tech addiction in the bedroom is to make it completely tech-free. The temptation to use smartphones and game consoles will always be there if these devices find their way into the bedroom.
You may also want to cut down on pre-bedtime entertainment such as TV and movies. Beware of scary movies and other unpleasant TV shows.
6. Eliminate EMF in the bedroom
When your child is fast asleep, ensure this journey is not hindered by foreign distractions whatsoever. While it is easy to assume all is fine in the bedroom, it is only after you start digging around that you will discover the numerous electronic devices littered around.
The presence of invincible electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the bedroom is known to interfere with sleep/wake and ultimately leads to sleep deprivation in children and adults.
The pineal gland is likely to sense EMFs as light but, as a consequence, may decrease the melatonin production.
In addition, EMF can lead to tiredness and disruption of the immune system. Other side effects include sleep disorders and multiple other health hazards such as cancer.
You may want to control the levels of EMF in the bedroom by doing the following:
- Keep Wi-Fi devices out of the bedroom. Swatch them off if nearby
- Switch off the cell phones, turn Airplane Mode on, and keep them a safe distance from children
- Unplug electronics from power mains next to the bed
- Avoid sleeping in a bedroom close to a cellular tower
- Minimize the use of fluorescent lighting in the bedroom to minimize dirty electricity
- Keep other electronic devices outside the bedroom.
At the end of the day, how often you stick to your child’s sleep routine will determine how effective you will be at making your baby sleep for longer hours and in peace.
Now you know.