Creating a calming atmosphere in your home to help babies and toddlers to sleep can be a challenge. I've been there as a parent of two highly energetic boys! They were never great sleepers to begin with when babies. Here are a few strategies that I have used as a parent that can help make bedtime or naptime a more relaxing and peaceful experience for everyone involved:
Maintain a consistent sleeping schedule. Establishing and sticking to a regular routine will help your child’s body to get used to the idea of sleeping at regular intervals. To help with this, setting soothing alarms can signal when bedtime is close. For example, if your bedtime routine starts at 7:30pm, set a calming alarm or music to play at that time. Set another soothing alarm at bedtime and they’ll know that it’s time to head to bed.
Along with setting an alarm, dim the lights in your child’s room before bedtime. This creates a more calming and relaxing environment. Plus, it tells their nervous system that it's time to wind down for the evening.
Use white noise machines or calming music to help your child relax. We were AVID users of white noise machines in our home when our babies were newborns to the age of 3. When we were on the go, we used white noise on our phones to encourage sleep. There are several apps out there available. Just find one that your child likes! If white noise is just not to your taste, soothing or relaxing music is the other way to go. My now 9 year old used to drift off to sleep while listening to lullaby classical music, while my 3 year old drifts to sleep while listening to soothing guitar strings.
Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature for your child. Too hot or too cold can make it difficult for them to sleep. To add onto this, dressing your child in comfortable pajamas really helps as well. They'll toss and turn, kick the blankets off if they're too hot, or wake you up to cover them with additional blankets if they're too cold. Finding the right temperature can be challenging so observe your child a few times at night to see what works. I find myself glancing at my children's room thermometer before they head to bed and before I go to sleep. This gives me an idea of how comfortable they are under or above the covers.
Try aromatherapy in your little one's bedroom. Using essential oils, like lavender, helps to relax, promote a calming atmosphere, and therefore promote sleep. If lavender isn't for you or your child, explore other scents to find out which ones they prefer.
Use a nightlight, especially if your child is afraid of the dark. A nightlight can help to reduce stress and anxiety. They'll feel safer in the room with even that little bit of light.
Take a warm and soothing bath before bedtime. A warm bath can help to relax your child and prepare them for sleep. Add in a lotion massage on their hands, arms, legs, and feet to ease any tensions that they have.
Read a bedtime book in a soothing voice. This quiet and calm tone definitely helps set the mood for peace and quiet before bedtime.
With some patience and experimentation, you can help create a calming and relaxing atmosphere in your home to promote better sleep for your child. These are strategies that I've tried as a parent and hope they'll help you and your baby or toddler in some way. If you've tried any of these or if you have another strategy of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below! Until the next blog...happy sleeping!