A good night’s sleep for children

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This week our contributing writer Jillian Dowling talks about how to make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
I get asked all of the time about products on the market that claim to help your children sleep better. For the most part, they do not. When we teach our children that they need to rely on “something” to get them to fall asleep, we are creating habits that will likely hinder their sleep down the line. If your baby has a bed, he has everything he needs for a good night’s sleep!

There are, however, some great products I have found over the last few years that can be really helpful with your child’s sleep. They aren’t always necessary but can be helpful tools if your child is really struggling.

White Noise Machines – These are especially helpful for families who have more than one child or noisy pets. It doesn’t act like a prop where your child “needs” it to fall asleep. It helps to drown out some noise so your baby can sleep peacefully. Some tips on selecting a good white noise machine are:

  • Be sure to keep it on a low setting to avoid any damage to your child’s hearing.
  • Be sure you are using the actual white noise sound. Music can be very stimulating for babies and other noises may actually keep your baby awake.
  • Select a white noise machine that plugs into the wall and plays throughout the night. Things like the Sleep Sheep only run for 20 minutes which then becomes a sleep prop as it may affect your baby if she wakes and it is not on

Toddler Sleep Clocks – These are really great for teaching your toddler when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to get up in the morning. Those 5 am wake ups can be the start of a really long day and make everyone miserable. The clock will give your child a reminder that it isn’t yet time to get up and they should lie down and go back to sleep. Be sure to keep it out of your child’s reach as I have seen many super smart little ones who figured out how to change the settings!

Sleep Sacks – Starting from day one these are a great way to safely keep your baby warm at night. It replaces any blankets in the crib that can cause potential harm. They are also a great way to transition your newborn out of a swaddle, and keep your toddler from climbing over the crib rails.
At about 6 months old you can offer your little one something small and safe that they can have just for sleeping. A small blanket or stuffy that your child will want to snuggle will make bedtime something to look forward to. My favourite (and both my boys) is a crochet blanket.
Books – Books are a bedtime essential for every child, even a newborn. Having a good bedtime routine that includes story time is the single best way your child can end her day. Here are a list of my favourite bedtime books for babies and children. Although a bed is all your child really needs to go to sleep, there are many things that parents can do to ensure their child is getting adequate sleep.
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