Sleep problems affect a child’s learning, behaviour, mood and health, and the physical and mental wellbeing of the whole family.
There are some factors beyond your control that can affect your child’s sleep. You should get advice from a medical professional if:
your child is in pain
your child’s condition can disrupt sleep
your child’s medication can affect sleep
Most sleep problems are caused by behaviours that they have learned. Teaching your child to settle themselves when they wake up helps them to fall asleep on their own.
You could also try talking to your child to find out if they cannot sleep because they’re worried about something. Speak to your doctor if you think your child might have anxiety.
try moving your child’s last nap to before 1pm
start your sleep routine at the same time each day
make sure all electronic screens are turned off an hour before going to bed as the blue light from these devices disrupts sleep
sit with your child and spend half an hour playing some quiet games, like jigsaws, colouring, threading or hammer beads
have a bath half an hour before bed, or earlier if your child finds a bath too exciting
make sure your child has enough food and drink before bedtime. Whole-wheat bread, bananas, honey, warm milk, almonds, peanut butter, potatoes or turkey in an evening meal or snack can help your child get to sleep
In the bedroom
put away or cover toys, bright colours and noisy items from the bedroom to make it feel calm
make sure the bedroom is dark enough. Use velcro blackout kits or blackout blinds to keep light out
the best temperature is 16 to 18 degrees celsius, but also talk to your child about what feels comfortable
lie on your child’s mattress to see if it’s comfortable – if you think it might be uncomfortable, ask your child
Settling your child when they wake up
Show them that you’re there to reassure them, but try not to stimulate them. This could mean:
not making eye contact
keeping the lights off
If you follow this advice for at least 3 weeks, you child’s sleeping pattern should get better.
If you have a partner, try to take turns being responsible for your child’s sleep. That way at least one of you can get a good night’s rest.