Sleep and Bedtime Habits
Getting your child to sleep is not always easy! We share some of the sleep basics and things that can help you and your little one.
Sleep cycles and stages of sleep
Knowing about sleep can help you understand if your child is getting enough. Here we give you a refresher on the basics of sleep.
- A ‘sleep cycle’ can be either light sleep or deep sleep. Each sleep cycle can last 90 to 100 minutes.
- Babies and children tend to wake up after a sleep cycle and sometimes call out or need help settling again.
- Some kids may fall asleep quickly while others might fidget for 20 minutes or longer before falling asleep.
- You can usually tell if your child is in a deep sleep when they look peaceful and restful. Also, it’s very hard to wake them up if they’re in a deep sleep.
- Try to put your baby to sleep early because the deepest sleep happens before midnight.
- Sleep is made up of three different stages. Deep sleep occurs in the later stages of sleep.
- Stages 1 and 2 - Periods of light sleep from which a child can easily be awakened.
- Stages 3 and 4 - Periods of deep sleep where it's more difficult to wake kids up. Kids will often feel disoriented for a few minutes after waking
- REM - Known as REM sleep because of the rapid eye movements that occur during this stage. Breathing becomes rapid, heart beats faster, and limb muscles don't move. Vivid dreams can occur during this stage.
Infants (3 - 11 months)
Toddlers (1 - 3 years)
Sleep tips for kids
How to help your child get the best sleep
Set a regular bed time and follow a predictable routine
Have quiet time one hour before bed with dimmed lights
Minimise exposure to screens (TV/technology) before bed
Use security objects to help with separation anxiety and nightmares
Get to know your baby’s signs of sleepiness
If illness is affecting baby’s sleep then see your GP for help
Try putting your baby to bed when they’re drowsy and let them self-soothe and fall asleep on their own
Practice safe sleeping by putting your baby on their back with face and head clear of blankets, toys, or pillows
Have a comfortable room temperature and clothing – not too hot or too cold
Try keeping toddler naps during the day to 1-2 hours so you avoid a delayed bedtime at night
Bedtime routines can help
Routines help your child to ‘wind down’ and become sleepy and ready for bed. It signals that the day is ending and helps the body release hormones that help with sleep.
Having a bedtime routine helps your child get to sleep more quickly and have good quality sleep.
Here are some things you might like to try as part of a bedtime routine:
- Have a bath
- Clean teeth
- Play soft music
- Read books or tell stories
- Dim the lights
- Say the final goodnight
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