Anyone who has ever had a bad habit to break knows that life would have been easier if they had never started the habit in the first place. Bad sleep habits in young children can cause fatigue for the care givers along with irritability and learning difficulties for the child. The following are tips for starting your child off with a good night sleep:
- Newborn babies typically go through cycles of playing, eating and sleeping every 3-4 hours. If your baby has been recently fed and seems fussy, try to calm them by walking or rocking them. When they seem calm but are not quite asleep, place them in a crib on a firm surface on their back with nothing extra present. Doing this while they are tired but still awake will help them develop the ability to fall asleep on their own, which eventually helps them get back to sleep when they awaken at night.
- If the baby gets fussy when put in the crib, try rubbing their tummy and softly shushing or singing a lullaby.
- Never let a baby fall asleep with the bottle or breast in their mouth, as this habit is very hard to break and can cause severe dental infections that are often painful and require surgery to fix.
- Establish a firm bedtime routine. It is good to have bedtime at the same time every night. Choose 2-3 things to do the same prior to saying goodnight. For example, you could read a book, sing a song and say goodnight to a favorite stuffed animal.
- Avoid stimulating activities such as television, phone or tablet use for 30 minutes prior to bedtime. This tip can help people of any age sleep better!
Dr. Jenny Bush
Pediatrician and Director of Pediatrics at Cherry Health