Positive sleep associations – or cues – are key to establishing sustainable sleep patterns. This involves implementing a consistent and predictable nap and bedtime routine which can be replicated by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Positive sleep associations day and night provide children with predictability, security and the necessary wind-down time before bed which can help to promote self-settling and minimize bedtime resistance and night waking.
Some examples include;
● Massage. Deep pressure massage calms the nervous system and is especially beneficial for overstimulated infants or overtired babies and toddlers.
● Swaddle and/or sleeping bag.
● White noise.
● Draw blinds.
● Read a book/sing a song.
● Cuddle/kiss goodnight
- A comforter may be used – however, they may become ‘negative’ sleep associations – i.e. they often develop sleep need or control pattern if over-used or encouraged outside of sleep times. Replace the need for a ‘comforter’ by offering your child the comfort of connection.
- Although white noise is considered a ‘positive’ sleep association, you may remove this from your child’s routine at any time by simply by reducing the volume slightly over three to seven days.
- Sleep associations such as rocking, feeding or holding to sleep, the car, carrier, swing, stroller, and the pacifier often develop into unsustainable sleep needs or control patterns and impact on a child’s ability to self-settle, fall asleep and remain asleep without repetitive parental intervention. Therefore, these actions – or objects – are best avoided at least 20 to 30 minutes prior to sleep times.
- Children don’t necessarily have to have a bath every day – in fact, scheduling bath time every second or third day may be beneficial for their gut health and overall immunity. For some children, bath time is a calming experience that helps them relax before bed. For others, it can be over-stimulating which has an adverse result. In such instance, I would recommend scheduling bath times before meal times, and not immediately preceding bedtime.