How can I help my child get a good night's sleep?

Top four tips to help your child sleep at night

By Alexandra Smith

Tip 1 - Children often need to wind-down ready to sleep at night. Some people suggest a bath, singing or reading a story to settle them down whereas others would say all this attention would be too stimulating and get them over-excited. Although you should find time to read with your child everyday, remember this doesn't always have to be before bed. Try different things to see what settles your child the best and change the routine if it's not working. Some children just need a soft toy to cuddle and a gently glowing night-light.

Growing children need quite a lot of sleep.
Tip 2 - If your child is having trouble sleeping, check if they want to use the toilet or potty; if they want a drink of water; if they're too hot or too cold; or if they're a bit hungry. They may not realise themselves until you ask. Try to make sure they eat and drink enough during the day to avoid two of these problems. Water or milk and a piece of toast with just a little spread or butter is probably a sensible evening snack occasionally but eating before bed should generally be avoided. You may also like to reassess nap times, if your child still has them, as they may not need sleep during the day anymore or may sometimes need more sleep to prevent them being over-tired by bed time.

Tip 3 - When your little one is having bad dreams, it is hard for them to tell you what's wrong and difficult for them to understand what a dream actually is. Ask them what they are thinking about and explain that the things that happen when they're asleep are not real; it's just like TV or playing a pretend game. Perhaps, during the day, ask them to act out their dream with you or with some toys and then show them how to resolve what happens. If they're still thinking about the problem at bedtime then list the things they did over the day or the week to try to redirect their thoughts. Unfortunately, talking about your plans for tomorrow isn't a good idea as it can get them too excited to sleep.

Tip 4 - If your child is having bad thoughts at bed time and you manage to find out what they're about then play on your child's imagination. For example, if they're asking you to check there's no monster under their bed then say 'No, I think the monster is at his house, wearing his pink dressing gown and fluffy slippers... he's probably watching a DVD and eating his supper right now I imagine.' This should help to turn the scary image they're seeing in to a funny or comforting one instead.

Do you have any good tips to help a child sleep better at night?

Note- If your child has really bad dreams persistently then visit your GP.  Also, ensure no one is letting your child watch inappropriate images, bullying them or abusing them in any way.  The NSPCC has advice on this if you are concerned.

Keep Reading: Tips for Tackling the Terrible Twos

© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

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