Summer sleep guide for babies and toddlers
- Mums Tips
- Baby & Toddlers
- Published on Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:15
- Last Updated on 24 April 2017
- Martin Ellis
- 0 Comments
As summer finally arrives, it brings with it longer days and balmy evenings. Whilst most people will undoubtedly welcome these changes, the lighter nights and higher temperatures can interrupt babies’ and toddlers’ sleep patterns – which means less sleep for mum and dad too! Fortunately, there are many tried and tested tricks you can use to help you and your children get a good night’s sleep. Here is my Summer sleep guide for babies and toddlers.
We all look forward to the summer, but for the parents of young children, the longer, warmer nights can bring unwelcome new challenges – how to get their little ones to sleep, and to make sure they don’t wake up with the sunrise! For many parents, the problems begin when the clocks go forward at the start of British Summer Time. For adults, losing one hour’s sleep and adjusting to a new routine isn’t such a big deal, but many children are more sensitive to forced changes in their usual daily routines. This is particularly true of babies and toddlers, who may respond to these changes in a variety of ways, including having trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, fatigue, and bad moods. Not to mention the effect all this might have on us poor parents!
There are several things you can do to help to ensure a smooth transition into summer for all. Sleep experts advise gradually getting children used to changes in daylight, particularly when clocks go forward. In the days leading up to the change, one thing you can try is gradually bringing forward dinner time and getting the children to bed earlier. That way, when the clocks move forward, your children are already acclimatized. To help get them off to sleep, make sure that children get a lot of exercise in the fresh air during the day to tire them out before bed. Also, to calm children down in the hour or so before bed time, try to avoid TV or exciting games. Some parents swear by warm milk with honey before bedtime (for babies from 12 months), and a bath or a warm comfort blanket usually helps babies and young children to relax. It’s also good to avoid making any big or sudden changes to your child’s usual routines, as a relaxed and familiar atmosphere is most conducive to sleep.
Another important consideration is your child’s sleep environment. If possible, you should aim to keep the room temperature below 18 degrees centigrade and to avoid too much variation in temperature during the night. However, if you are using blankets on your child’s bed, you might find that they accidentally kick them off. For this reason, many paediatricians now recommend using children’s sleeping bags for babies and toddlers. A child can’t kick off a sleeping bag as it sleeps, so the child is kept at a stable temperature and is less likely to wake up as a result. If you do decide to opt for a sleeping bag, make sure that it is the right weight for the time of year. In the summer, it’s best to avoid using warm winter sleeping bags to avoid over-heating. For room temperatures above 18 degrees, a thinner 1 tog sleeping bag is usually best because it keeps the body temperature constant, yet is also breathable, helping to guarantee a safe and comfortable night’s sleep. Do remember that when using a sleeping bag, you need to adjust your child’s night clothes to suit the room temperature – don’t overdress them in warm weather, as you don’t want them to get too hot.
One final useful tip is to fit blackout blinds or curtains if it is very bright in your child’s bedroom. Blackout blinds are made from an opaque material that blocks sunlight, ensuring that the evening sun doesn’t stop your child getting to sleep – and just as importantly, ensuring that they don’t wake up with the sunrise!
The warmer, lighter summer days should be a pleasure for all, and by following the simple tips above, you can help to make this summer a happier one for all of your family!
Martin is a father of two and husband to one. He works as a marketing manager at Slumbersac, a UK based, family run business that specializes in sleeping bags for babies and children.