Most babies are ready to sleep through the night by the time they are about four to six months. Quality sleep is one of the most beneficial things a person can experience but any parent knows that peaceful nights are not always guaranteed, particularly when your child is still young. In many cases, irregular and insufficient sleep can cause obesity in children. This article seeks to enlighten you on some baby bedtime mistakes to avoid so that your child can enjoy quality sleep for a healthier life.
Don’t use bedtime or sleep as a punishment
If you have been telling your child to go to bed because they are misbehaving, the message that gets into their head is that bedtime is a negative consequence for their behaviour and they will do all they can to avoid going to bed. You may be physically exhausted from work and your busy schedules, and you may reason that to enjoy some peace and quiet time, sending the kids to bed is the solution. To curb this trend, adjust your child’s bedtime without presenting it as a punishment.
Failing to have healthy routines
Most children perform their best when there is a routine in place. Try to establish a bedtime routine, which may include teeth brushing, bedtime prayer ritual, playing on the couch, or even reading bedtime stories together. All these are positive and calm ways to end the day together. Such routine will help your children have a smooth transition to their beds and will establish healthy habits for life.
Don’t be a slave to your baby’s cries
If your baby cries when you put her down at night and you rush in to comfort her each time, she will never learn to soothe herself to sleep. Wait for about five minutes before checking on her. Eventually, she will learn that her crying doesn’t guarantee her immediate attention and by and large, she may stop crying altogether. However, if the child is sick or distressed, you should attend to her.
Do not skip the transition stage
You should help your children in the transition stage. Do not focus on your long busy day that you find it difficult to get time for the children. Be genuinely interested on how they are fairing and what could be troubling them. This should also be a time of showering them with love and praises for the good they have done and also correcting mistakes. Children need this transition time in order to fall asleep comfortably. This period allows their brains and bodies to slow down, making falling asleep much easier.
Don’t ignore snoring
Some significant health problems can present themselves in the form of snoring. When kids snore, they loose peaceful hours of sleep. Snoring could also be an indicator of a narrow air passage or enlarged tonsils. Ensure that your children get medical attention when they are sick. They should also sleep on a firm mattress in a clean, well-ventilated room.
Don’t get used to rocking your baby to sleep
If your child is still young, stop the habit of rocking her to sleep. If you do this frequently, she will begin to depend on being in your arms to doze off. If she tends to fall asleep when you give her a bottle or nurse her, gently wake her up before you place her in her crib to ensure that she swallows her feed.
Do not put the baby to bed with a bottle
This is a mistake most parents and caretakers make. When your baby falls asleep, drinking formula milk from a bottle can pool in her mouth leading to tooth discolouration and decay. It can also cause choking while increasing the risk of ear infection.
Don’t confuse the baby
Your child will never sleep through the night if she does not learn the difference between dark and light. To help her organise her natural sleep rhythms, keep her room lit in the morning and during the day and switch off the lights at night.
As parents, you need to be consistent in your bedtime strategies. If one parent allows the children to stay up late and watch movies or engage in other activities, there maybe bedtime battles when the other parent is leading the bedtime routine by reading stories or praying. Form a plan together with your partner and commit to being consistent – you will all sleep better for it. However, it’s advisable that whichever bedtime routine you have, always pray together, because a family that prays together in most cases stays together.