How to combat those bedtime stalling tactics
DOES your preschooler struggle to go to sleep? Do they still seem tired after they wake up? Are you concerned about whether they are getting quality sleep?
In previous columns we explored issues around night terrors, bedtime, sleepwalking and nightmares, but sometimes sleep issues are not that easy to recognise.
Thankfully there are a number of steps you can take if you believe your child is lacking adequate sleep, so let's explore them.
The bedtime routine
As your toddler progresses into a preschooler, it may become more difficult to stick to bedtime routines, or they may seem to drag out longer.
This could be because your preschooler's mind is more active and their mind may still be busy thinking about what happened during the day.
It therefore becomes difficult for your child to switch off and prepare for bed. But it's vital you try to stick with a positive bedtime routine.
A great idea is to set a timetable that includes a designated quiet time between brushing their teeth and hopping into bed to sleep. This time can be spent reading books or telling stories and it can help them settle down.
One common tactic by children to stretch out their bedtime is to ask for extra stories as a delaying tactic. You don't want to discourage reading, but if this happens suggest to your child other stories can be read the next day and set a rule of two or three stories each night.
Environment is important
One of the biggest impacts on your child's sleep is the environment around them. Do they feel safe? Is it noisy? Is there too much light?
If your child is worried about going to bed or scared of the dark, make sure you praise and reward them when they overcome those fears. Try a night light as that will often help and it is also checking for any shadows that might scare your child and to remove or adjust the object causing them.
What your child does during the day impacts their sleep.
The actions you take during the day can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. This is especially true for children.
Firstly, as they get older you should cut down on your child's daytime naps. They need 11-13 hours at night, but an afternoon nap will cause them issues with getting to and staying asleep at night.
You also want them to have a good breakfast then eat properly during the day and to also have an evening meal at a reasonable time.
If your child is hungry or too full at bedtime it will reduce the quality of their sleep.
It is important to ensure your child gets enough sunshine during the day. Natural light helps the body create melatonin, which is important for their sleep cycle.
Also, try to avoid caffeine.
If you have further questions about this or any other health issue for your child, please chat to your GP or visit our WBHHS child health team at the Margaret Rose Centre, 312 Bourbong St, Bundaberg. Alternatively, call your local WBHHS child health team on:
- Bundaberg - 4150 2700
- Childers - 4192 1133
- Gin Gin - 4157 2222
- Gayndah - 4161 3571
- Monto - 4166 9300
- Eidsvold - 4165 7100