6 Science-Backed Child Sleep Methods
Everything about infant sleep can appear frighteningly high-stakes at 3 A.M.
Make one small error in their training, and your child’s growth will be seriously affected: he’ll either end up waking in the night well into his high school years, or worse, develop depression, stress, and anxiety, or experience mood swings.
And with every sleep professional offering slightly different advice on the perfect timing and method for sleep training, you might be uncertain about who to believe, how to continue, or which sleep training technique you ought to follow.
That’s where this article comes– I’m going to help you differentiate sleep fact from sleep fiction by zeroing in on six science-backed techniques that have proven to promote healthy sleep habits in babies and young kids.
Strategy # 1– Learn to Spot Your Child’s Sleep Cues.
Like the rest of us, your kid has a sleep window of opportunity, an amount of time when he is tired but not too worn out.
If that window closes before you have a chance to tuck your kid into bed, his body will start releasing chemicals to fight the fatigue, and it will be far more difficult for you to get him to go to sleep. How can you tell if your infant is getting sleepy? It’s not as if your one-month-old can tell you what he needs. Here are some sleep cues that your infant is prepared to start unwinding for a nap or bedtime:
- Your child is calmer and less active– this is the most obvious hint that your baby is tired, and you need to act accordingly.
- Your child might be less tuned-in to his environments– his eyes might be less concentrated, and his eyelids may be sagging.
- Your infant may be quieter– if your infant tends to babble up a storm during his more social times of the day, you may see that the chatter falls off as he begins to get sleepy.
- Your baby may nurse more gradually– instead of drawing strongly, your child will tend to nurse more gradually as he gets sleepy. In truth, if he’s tired enough, he may even drop off to sleep mid-meal.
- Your infant may start yawning– if your child does this, well, that’s a not-so-subtle sign that he’s one drowsy infant.
When your child is extremely young, you need to begin his wind-down routine within one to 2 hours of the time when he first woke up.
If you miss his preliminary sleep cues and start to see indications of overtiredness– for example, fussiness, irritation, and eye-rubbing note the length of time your child was up. Next time begins the wind-down routine about 20 minutes earlier the next time he awakens. (An excellent aspect of parenting a newborn is that you get lots of opportunities to practice learning those sleep cues– about six or seven times a day!).
Finding how to read your child’s unique sleep hints is the primary step to a more rested and more content child.
Here’s something else you need to understand about children’s sleep hints, something that can toss you a major curveball if you’re not paying attention: Babies tend to go through an extra-fussy period when they reach the six-week mark. The amount of sobbing that babies carry out in a day tends to increase greatly when infants are around six weeks of age. You aren’t doing anything wrong, and there isn’t anything wrong with your child. It’s just a short-term stage that children go through.
If your child ends up overtired, your kid is likely to act in several of the following methods (outcomes may vary, depending on his age and character):
- Your kid will get an unexpected burst of energy at the very time when you think she must be working on empty.
- You’ll start seeing “wired” and hyper habits, even if such behavior is totally out of character for your kid at other times of the day.
- Your toddler or preschooler will end up being argumentative or uncooperative.
- Your kid will be whiny or clingy, or she’ll break down since she just can’t handle the lack of sleep any longer.
You will most likely find that your kid has a unique reaction to being overtired. Some children begin to look pale. Some infants start rooting around for a breast and will latch on to anything within range, including your face or arm! When nothing appears to be incorrect (he’s fed and clean), however, he’s simply grumbling about whatever and wishes to be held all the time, he’s overtired and requires aid to get to sleep.
Learning to read your child’s distinct sleep cues is the initial step to a more rested and happier infant.
Strategy # 2– Teach Your Baby to Distinguish between Night and Day.
Since our circadian rhythm (our internal time clock) operate on 24-hour and 10-minute to 24 hour and 20-minute cycles (everybody’s body clock ticks along at a slightly different rhythm) and all of our rhythms are a little out of sync with the 24-hour clock on which the planet runs, we need to reset our biological rhythms every day. Otherwise, we’d gradually, however undoubtedly, remain up later on and oversleep later each day until we had our cycles entirely out of whack.
Daylight is one of the mechanisms that manage our biological cycles.
Being exposed to darkness at night and daytime first thing in the morning manages the body’s melatonin production. This hormone keeps our bodies' internal clock in sync to feel alert and tired at the proper times.
By exposing your baby to daylight shortly after he gets up in the early morning and keeping his environment brightly lit during his waking hours, you will assist his circadian rhythm in telling him to feel sleepy at the correct times.
He’ll start to associate darkness with sleep time and intense light with wake-up time– you’ll find that it works best to take benefit of sunshine (as opposed to artificial light) whenever possible.
Studies have shown that exposing your infant to daytime between midday and 4:00 P.M. will increase the chances of your child getting an excellent night’s sleep.
Strategy # 3– Let Your Baby Practise Falling Asleep on His Own.
Some sleep experts suggest that you put your baby to bed in a sleepy-but-awake state whenever possible from the newborn stage onwards so that he can practice some self-soothing behaviors.
Others say that you should offer your baby at least one opportunity to attempt to go to sleep on his own every day.
Some others state that there’s no point even bothering to work on these skills up until your child reaches that three-to-four month mark (when your infant’s sleep-wake rhythm starts to mature so that some sleep learning can begin to take location).
Sleep professionals claim that the sleep-association clock starts ticking at around six weeks. They state that this is the point at which your baby starts to tune into his environment as he’s falling asleep.
So if he gets used to going to sleep in your arms while your rock and sing to him, he will want you to rock and sing to him when he wakes up in the middle of the night– that’s the only way he knows how to go to sleep.
This is because he has established a sleep association that involves you– you have ended up being a walking, talking sleep aid.
To some parents, it makes sense to take a middle-of-the-road approach to sleep throughout the early weeks and months of their child’s life. They decide to make getting to sleep the top priority on their own and for their children to take advantage of any chances to establish healthy sleep routines.
When you begin taking notice of sleep associations your infant might be establishing, at some point, you will want to consider whether your child could be starting to associate any of the following habits or behaviors with the process of falling asleep:
- Falling asleep during bottle-feeding.
- Being rocked to sleep.
- Having you rub or pat his back, sing a lullaby, or otherwise play an active role in assisting your infant in dropping off to sleep.
- Having you in the space up until your baby goes to sleep.
- Relying on a pacifier.
Here’s something crucial to remember, especially since we tend to fall under an all-or-nothing trap when we’re dealing with the topic of sleep.
You can minimize the strength of any specific sleep association by making sure it is present some of the time when your infant is falling asleep.
If, for instance, you nurse your baby to sleep some of the time, rock your infant to sleep other times, try to put your baby to bed sometime when he’s awake, he’ll have a hard time getting connected on any sleep association.
Sleep experts believe that the feeding-sleep association tends to be especially effective, so if you can motivate your baby to fall asleep without always needing to be fed, your child will have an easier time learning how to soothe himself to sleep when he gets a little older.
Many infants are ready to start practicing these skills around the three- to the four-month mark.
Strategy # 4– Make Daytime Sleep a Priority: Children Who Nap Sleep Better.
Scientific research has shown that infants who nap throughout the day sleep much better and longer at nighttime. You might think that avoiding babies' daytime naps might make it easier to get them off to bed at night. However, infants typically become so overtired that they have a tough time settling down at bedtime and do not sleep especially well at night.
And rather than sleeping in to catch up on the sleep they didn’t get the previous day, they tend to start the next day too early and have a hard time settling down for their naps.
It is crucial to make your kid’s daytime sleep a reality, just as you make a point of guaranteeing that he receives healthy meals and treats regularly. Your kid requires naps throughout the day in addition to his primary nighttime sleep to be at his best.
In addition, preschoolers, infants, and young children who sleep are generally in a better state of mind and have a better attention period than their age-mates who don’t nap.
Strategy #5 – Know When Your Baby No Longer Needs to Be Fed At Night.
Your baby might continue to get up in the night out of habit even when he’s outgrown the need for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
If your child is going without that nighttime feeding a few times or doesn’t appear particularly interested in nursing when he gets up in the night, it may be time to get rid of that nighttime feeding and use non-food techniques to relieve him back to sleep.
Eventually, you’ll want to encourage him to assume responsibility for soothing himself to sleep however the first test is to break that food-sleep association.
With some children, it occurs quickly. With other children, it’s a much slower slog.
When you break that association, he might stop waking as frequently in the night and be prepared to start dealing with acquiring some self-soothing abilities.
Method # 6– Remain as Calm and Relaxed as Possible about the Sleep Problem.
If you are irritated and angry when dealing with your kid in the night, your kid will undoubtedly pick up your vibes, even if you’re striving to hide your sensations.
Accepting that some children take a little longer to learn the sleep ropes and feeling optimistic that you can resolve your kid’s sleep problems will make it easier to cope with the middle-of-the-night sleep disruptions.
Scientific research studies have shown that moms and dads who have realistic expectations about parenthood and who feel great in their capabilities to manage parenting troubles find it simpler to handle sleep obstacles.
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