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Encourage Healthy Sleep Habits in Toddlers

June 26, 2018
healthy sleep habits

Healthy sleep habits combined with eating fresh healthy meals, keep our bodies fit and strong.

New research released by VicHealth and the Sleep Health Foundation has found that technology before bed, caffeine and stress all contribute to later bed times, sleep problems and mental illness in teenagers and young people.

It is much easier to create healthy sleep habits at an early age.  Follow our tips below to establish positive patterns in your family that will set you up for the teenage years:

Establish a regular sleep pattern

Regular hours of sleep are important. It will help your child understand when it is time to sleep and your child will have better sleep and develop healthy sleep habits.

Bed time and the time your child wakes up, shouldn’t vary by more than an hour between school and non-school nights.

A consistent bedtime routine

It is good to have the same routine before bed each night especially for children who thrive on routine. This will help prepare for sleep. Aim for quiet activities such as reading a book or having a bath and encourage a positive calm pattern ready for sleep.

In the half hour before bed, there are some things you don’t want your child to do such as increased physical activity, playing outside, watching television, or playing computer games.

Make sure the bedroom is comfortable

Your child’s bedroom should be a quiet, comfortable and dark. Some children like a dim night light which makes them feel safe. Make sure your child sees his or her bedroom as a good place to be.

Bed is for sleeping, not entertainment

Television, computers, mobile phones and other things that distract your child can stimulate your child’s brain and are not good for their sleep.   Start a habit of keeping all electronic games out of the bedroom and create a charging station in a central part of the house where they are stored every evening.   This habit will prove invaluable as your child grows through the primary years and into a teenager.

A snack before bed may help develop healthy sleep habits

It’s difficult to sleep on an empty stomach. A light snack can help settle and soothe your child if not enough nutritious food has been eaten during the day. Keep in mind that ideally your child should not have a heavy meal within one to two hours of going to bed so keep the snack light.   Check out our Hearty Health blog here for nutritious recipes that may help.

Caffeine is a stimulant

Caffeine is found in many popular drinks. These include coffee, tea and soft drinks which can make it harder to get to sleep. Your child should have as little of these as possible, and especially not after lunchtime.

Watch out for daytime naps

It is normal for young children to nap during the day but as your child gets older, they will need less sleep. The number and length of naps depends on your child. If your child naps after 4pm (except for the very young) it can be harder to get to sleep at night.

Exercise and time outside

Daily exercise and time spent outside in the daylight is an important part of healthy living and promotes healthy sleep habits. However, it is best to steer clear of heavy exercise in the hour before sleep.

Work with your doctor

If your child is sick or isn’t comfortable, their sleep will suffer. Some children suffer from specific sleep problems such as frequent nightmares, snoring or sleep apnoea. It is important that these problems are dealt with. If you think ill health is involved, discuss this with your family doctor.

For more tips and hints on getting your children to sleep visit http://raisingchildren.net.au/

Hearty Health specialise in providing fresh healthy meals to children in child care every day.  Our philosophy is to create healthy eating habits in children as soon as possible to set them up to be healthy adults.   If your child attends child care, contact us here to find out if your centre is a Hearty Health centre.

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