How to avoid sleep problems

Written by    Last updated: September 12, 2007

Disturbed sleep can create havoc for the child and the parents. Find out what the likely causes could be and what you can do to help your child sleep through the night…

How to avoid sleep problems

Disturbed sleep can create havoc for the child and the parents. Find out what you can do to avoid it…

Possible causes of waking in the night

Being ill: find out if the temperature and other symptoms are normal. If your child is ill or teething, he’ll need to be comforted. As this is likely to be a temporary phase, he’ll return to the usual sleeping pattern once its over.

Not getting enough to eat in the day: replace foods with ‘empty calories’ such as biscuits and cakes with more nutritious and filling snacks such as pasta and fruit.

Sensitivity to new food: introducing new foods to the diet can cause indigestion, which can keep the child awake, so keep a note of what was eaten that day.

Daytime naps: allowing your child to have too much sleep during the day or to have a nap too late in the day, can affect sleeping at the normal time.

Too bright: make sure that the room has thick curtains in Summer, as it’s harder to fall asleep in a room that is too bright.

Feeling cold: children often kick off their covers during the night, which leads to feeling chilly and then waking up. Try a sleeping bag,which won’t come off during the night.

Tips for better sleep

Bedtime routine: a familiar bedtime routine, such as bath, milk, story, then bed, gives your child the signal that it’s time to get sleepy.

Physical activity: fresh air and physical activity is not only good for your toddler’s health, but helps him to get sound sleep as well. Mum and toddler yoga classes are also a great idea.

Switch off distractions: don’t allow your child to watch television just before going to bed. There should be a gap of at least an hour to stop the young brain to stop buzzing from the bright lights and stimulating images.

Winding down time: don’t be in a rush to put your toddler to bed. Children need time for their brains to wind down from the excitement of the day.

Milky drink: having a small drink of milk before bedtime can have a calming effect. It also means that the toddler has to stop charging around and sit down.

Dealing with waking in the night

Wanting a drink of milk: you could try swapping the milk for water. This isn’t as much of a ‘treat’ so it might help put him/her off wanting a drink at that time.

Wanting your attention: don’t talk to him when you go to him as he may be waking up to have some enjoyable time with you. Don’t pick him and cuddle. Just touch gently and say softly ‘Go back to sleep’. Make it dull and he should soon go back to sleep.

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