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Making Life Easier: Bedtime and Naptime

Making Life Easier: Bedtime and Naptime

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Many families find bedtime and naptime to be a challenge for them and their children. Sleep problems can make infants and young children moody, short tempered and unable to engage well in interactions with others. Sleep problems can also impact learning. Parents also need to feel rested in order to be nurturing and responsive to their growing and active young children. This first installment of the Making Life Easier series provides a few proven tips for making bedtimes and naptimes easier for both parents and children. Also includes a handy tip card for quick reference.(November, 2010)
Many families find bedtime and naptime to be a challenge for them and their children. Sleep problems can make infants and young children moody, short tempered and unable to engage well in interactions with others. Sleep problems can also impact learning. Parents also need to feel rested in order to be nurturing and responsive to their growing and active young children. This first installment of the Making Life Easier series provides a few proven tips for making bedtimes and naptimes easier for both parents and children. Also includes a handy tip card for quick reference.(November, 2010)

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Published by: Pyramid Model Consortium on Nov 10, 2010
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11/16/2010

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 Making Life Easier 
By Pamelazita Buschbacher, Ed.D. Illustrated by Sarah I. Perez
1
M
any amilies fnd bedtime and naptime to be a challenge orthem and their children. It is estimated that 43% o all chil-dren and as many as 86% o children with developmentaldelays experience some type o sleep diculty. Sleep problemscan make inants and young children moody, short tempered and unableto engage well in interactions with others. Sleep problems can also impactlearning. When a young child is sleeping, her body is busy developing newbrain cells needed or her physical, mental and emotional development.Parents also need to eel rested in order to be nurturing and responsive to theirgrowing and active young children. Here are a ew proven tips or makingbedtimes and naptimes easier or parents and children.
Tip:
 
Establish GoodSleep Habits
 
Develop a regular time forgoing to bed and taking naps, and a regular time to wake up.
Young childrenrequire about 10-12 hourso sleep a day (see thebox on the last page thatprovides inormation on how muchsleep a child needs). Sleep can be any combination o naps and night time sleep.
 
Make sure your child has outside time andphysical activity daily 
, but not within the hour beore naptime or bedtime.
Give your child your undivided and unrushed attention
as you prepareher or bedtime or a nap. Tis will help to calm her and let her know howimportant this time is or you and her.
 
Develop a bedtime and naptime routine.
Help your child be ready or sleep. Babies and young children thrive on predictability and learnrom repetition. Tey like and need to know what is happening next. It
BedtimeandNaptime
 
2is important to establish a routine that both you andyour child understand and fnd calming and relaxing.Bedtime routines usually involve undressing, bathing,dressing in pajamas, brushing teeth, toileting or oldertoddlers and preschoolers, story and/or prayers (orchildren developmentally older than six months). Teorder and content will be dierent or each amily depending on the developmental age o your child, thetraditions o your amily, and the needs o your child’sspecifc disability.Do and say the same things beore naps andbedtime. Tis helps your child transition romactive play to sleep.Establish a predictable place or sleeping. I you want your child to sleep in his own bed, put himdown in his own bed. I you would like yourchild to nap in her room, guide her to sleep inher room. I you begin the bedtime routine inanother location (e.g., the rocking chair) and thenmove the child when sleeping, your child is likely to wake up during a light sleep cycle and becomeconused about her surroundings.
Help your child understand the steps in the napping and bedtime routines.
 First…, then… statements help your child under-stand and predict what will happen next. Youmight say, “Sara, it’s time to take a nap. First, let’sfnd teddy. Ten we can pick a book to read. Ten we can climb into bed and cuddle.Your child might beneft rom a picture scheduleor a picture book (photos, clipart, objects) o thesteps in her napping or bedtime. Tis can helpher understand the steps and expectations o theroutine. It can also help other adults and babysit-ters put her to bed in a similar manner. Supportingothers who put your child to sleep in a way thatyou have ound works will be very reassuring andcalming or your child and or them.
 
Tell your child what might happen when she wakesup.
Te day might have been so much un that yourchild does not want to take a break or a nap or go tobed or the night. Follow your calming routine, reas-suring your child that the un will continue when she wakes up. You might want to talk with her about what will happen when she wakes. You might want to showher a picture o what is going to happen ater she sleeps.For example, you might say, “First, sleep. Ten wakeup and we go to the park.” You might use pictures o sleep and park to help your child understand.
 
Carry a favorite transition object to bed
(e.g., ateddy bear, a blankie, a book). A transition objectbecomes another signal to the child that it is timeto go to sleep. Some children preer an object that issoothing to touch or cuddle while resting.
 
Provide your child with calming, rest-inducing activities, sounds or objects in the routine.
Avoidactivities that might excite your child in the hourbeore bedtime or nap. It is not a time or rough-housing, tickle games, or active play. It is not a timeor DVDs or computer games. In act, you might havean easier time with the naptime/bedtime transition i your child is not engaged in a avorite activity whenit is time to start the naptime or bedtime routine. It isimportant that your routine helps your child prepareor resting and sleeping. Some possible soothing itemsand activities include sucking a pacifer, hugging ablankie or sot animal, looking through or readinga avorite book, sot music on the CD player, beingrocked, a back rub, or singing a lullaby to your child.Reducing the noise and light in the room and nearby rooms is rest-inducing or many young children.
 
Put your baby or child down for sleep while she isstill awake.
Say “good night” and leave the room. By putting your baby/child down beore she’s asleep, shelearns to go to sleep on her own, an important skill orthe rest o her lie. I she alls asleep routinely in yourarms or a rocking device, she might get disorientedor scared when waking up in her crib or bed, rather
 
3than cozy and comortable in your arms. She will not have learned how to put hersel back to sleep without your help. Whenplacing your child in her bed, youcan provide her with soothingsleep aids such as her security blanket, a stued animal, apacifer, or quiet music.ell your child that you will be back to check onher shortly and then besure to return in a ewminutes. She might cry or a ew minutes. I so, you can help hersettle down againand then leave theroom. You canreturn to her roomon regular intervals tooer comort, but youshould not take yourchild out o bed.
 Avoid certain foodsand drinks six hoursbefore sleep
(e.g., sodas, choc-olate, atty oods). A little tummy that is digesting sugary, caeinated oratty oods can keep a child alert and awake.
 
Try breast feeding or oering a warm bottle just before bed.
Milk can induce a deep sleep. However,i your child is being potty trained, avoid milk threehours beore sleep because it may cause them to havean accident during the night. Remember that a childshould never be put to bed with a bottle as that causesserious tooth decay. You want to also remember tohelp your child brush his teeth ater any snack ordrink that is given prior to sleeping.
 
Provide choices whenever possible.
Providingchoices or your child has proven to be a powerulstrategy in preventing challenging behaviors. Choicesyou oer at bedtime could be whether the night lightstays on or o, what toy the child takes to bed, thestory you will read, or i the door is open or shut. Tisgives your child a eeling o control and helps yourchild cooperate with your requests. When oeringchoices, make them concrete and limited (only 2 or 3 choices). For example, you could letyour child choose which pajamas to wear (given 2 choices), when togo potty (e.g., beore or aterbrushing teeth), who will giveher a bath (e.g., mommy or grandma), or whatbook to read (given 3choices), etc.
 
Reduce noise anddistractions in and nearher room.
 You want tohelp your child all asleepby reducing the distrac-tions or things that makeher stay awake. For example,i your child would rather stay up and watch television, turn ito until she is asleep. I it is stilllight outside, consider shades orcurtains that darken the room. I adults or other children are talkingor playing, consider asking them tomove away rom the child’s room. When an inant or a young child sleeps ina room with the television on or loud conver-sation happening, she comes to rely on theseto all asleep but doesn’t truly get the restulsleep she needs. I it is not possible to keep the environ-ment quiet, consider playing soothing music near thechild to block out other sounds (a ticking clock, fshtank, or an might also work).
 
Reduce light in the room.
While you want to darkenthe room, your child might fnd it reassuring to have asmall light on in the room or her bedroom door openslightly and a light on in the hall.
 
Make sure your child is comfortable.
Check thetemperature; what is comortable or you might bechilly or too warm or your child. Your child mightneed the security o pajamas that are snug ftting oran extra blanket. She might eel cold even when youthink the room is just right. She might need the anon or o.

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