When children are babies, it is quite common for them to wake up at night to feed, but as they grow older, it is normal for them to start sleeping more hours at night and in this way, parents can also rest. But if your child is one of the 20% of children who have nocturnal awakenings, then read on so that you can help him get a better night’s sleep.
Studies indicate that 20% of children between the ages of one and three still have nocturnal awakenings. It is usually inappropriate sleep associations that cause children to have nocturnal awakenings. Sleep associations are the conditions that are present at the moment when sleep begins, the moment when children fall asleep.
When a child falls asleep under certain conditions, the child will need the same conditions to fall asleep again after awakening at night.
Sleep associations that may seem appropriate but often are not, such as thumb sucking, rocking, needing parental presence, etc.
Inadequate sleep associations are the main cause of frequent awakenings at night. It is necessary to help children to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep at night, but how to achieve this if it should be a natural process?
How to help your child sleep and stay asleep
Here are some helpful tips to help your child sleep through the night:
- Establish an appropriate sleep schedule for going to bed early. If your child goes to bed late or is too tired, he will wake up more during the night. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure that your child is rested during the day and that at night he can go to sleep at an early hour.
- Introduce an object of value to the child. Children sometimes need a transitional object to sleep alone and to provide security when you are not with them, such as a stuffed toy or blanket. You can include that security object in the night routine so that it associates it with sleep.
- Establish a consistent routine with quiet and enjoyable activities, such as a bath or bedtime story. It can also be a time to connect with the children, singing lullabies to sleep, for example.
- It is necessary to have a quiet sleeping environment in the bedroom, so it is important to dim the lights and enhance an environment without noise or distractions.
- Put your child to bed awake before leaving the room. It is key that your child learn to fall asleep on his own so that he will learn to fall asleep only when he wakes up at night.
- If your child cries or screams, go see what happens. Wait as long as you see fit and check that your child is okay again, come back if when you leave he is still upset. Visits should be short at most one minute and not stimulating.
A gradual approach
If you think your child needs even more security, you probably want the process to be gradual. To achieve this when you put your child awake in his bed or crib, stand next to him with a chair and when you see him fall asleep you leave. After two days try to put the chair a little further from the bed until one day you stay at the door, the next step will be not to be in their sight.
Be consistent and don’t give up. The first nights will be more difficult and the second or third night will probably be the most complicated, but think that it is a transition and that you will soon see improvement in your child’s sleeping habit, and the best thing is that he will learn to sleep alone.