Experts Corner

How to Create a Strong Sleep Foundation for Your Child

August 16, 2022   By Tracey Murray

Tracey Murray of holisticsleepmummais a certified baby sleep specialist who helps assist families with sleep deprivation and provides unique baby sleep solutions in Australia.

We all know sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to optimal health and wellbeing. So, it makes sense that we should start protecting the sleep of our children from the moment they are born. It’s never too early or too late to start setting up a strong sleep foundation, but the sooner, the better! 

My name is Tracey and I’m a gentle baby and toddler Sleep Consultant and the woman and mum behind ‘Holistic Sleep Mumma’. In this article, I’ll be taking you through the steps on how to give your child the best sleep foundation right from birth through till kindergarten. 

Start with a Relaxing Atmosphere 

It’s important babies are given the best opportunities for sleep – it goes way beyond ‘self-settling’. Most children are very easily stimulated by the world around them, so when it comes to nap or bedtime, you need to make sure you’re creating a calm atmosphere (it’s pretty much the same as for adults, too!)

Their sleeping space should be a place where they can wind down and relax – an escape from the outside world. So, making the bedroom really dark, not only overnight but during the day too, can help your child easily achieve sleep. 

Sleeping During the Day vs. Night 

During the day, it’s a good idea to have a really dark room because kids don’t have their sleepy hormone – melatonin – producing. This means we are heavily reliant on the sleeping environment to help induce sleep. A dark room means no distractions and falling asleep is easier to achieve.

Some parents get concerned about day and night confusion – but even though it’s a real thing, this rarely happens in kids. For this to happen, you’d need to have your child in a dark room all day, every day. But this doesn’t happen in real life! During the day, your child will be out and about, exposed to light and experiencing social interactions and the world around them. Plus, with regular feeds, this all ensures their circadian rhythm is being set up perfectly. 

As such, you don’t need to worry about having your child’s room dark during the day – it won’t confuse them when they’re getting all of the above too. 

Temperature Matters 

Having the temperature perfect for your child is also essential to having them sleep comfortably through the night. It’s best to dress them for the coldest part of the night, which is usually around 2-5am. This may mean dressing them warmer than you feel necessary at the beginning of the night to factor in the drop in temperature in the early hours of the morning.

Buy a thermometer

A great way to measure the temperature of the room is to use a proper thermometer, which you can grab at a place like Bunnings. Place it on the wall at the level your child sleeps. This will give you a true reading of what they are feeling. As we know, temperature rises, so if you are measuring the temperature from up on a chest of drawers or on the wall via the video monitor this is going to give you an incorrect reading.

Use an oil heater

Ideally, you want to avoid the room dropping below 18 degrees, so have an oil heater or your main heater come on from at least 1am.

Invest in several sleeping bags 

The average quilt cover you use on your bed is rated between 10-15 togs (the tog is a measure of thermal insulance of a unit area, also known as thermal resistance), which is a huge difference from the sleeping bags children use.

It’s recommended to have a 3.5, 2.5 and a 1.5 tog sleeping bag on hand throughout the year. The 3.5 tog sleeping bags are amazing for the winter months, and the 2.5 and 1.5 tog sleeping bags are ones you would use during the in-between months and summer.

The best sheet material

Every layer your child sleeps in should be 100% cotton, bamboo or linen. These materials are soft to touch, making the textures comfortable for a child. Most importantly, these materials are breathable, which will help promote a good, long sleep for your child.

Invest in a High Quality Mattress

Finally, one of the best things you can do for your child’s sleep is invest in a high-quality mattress. Mattresses need to be firm and supportive to maximise your child’s development whilst also protecting them against the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

I highly recommend Ecosa mattresses for several reasons: they are red nose Australia approved, and have the innovative ‘nestflow core’ which is made from food-grade polypropylene, meaning there is no latex, adhesives or chemical-filled nasties present. The lightweight outer cover also helps to regulate your child’s temperature overnight, reducing the chance of them overheating.

Want to Learn More? 

If you’d like to learn how you can support your child’s sleep further, you can find me on Instagram under ‘holisticsleepmumma’ where I post endless sleep tips and tricks to improve your child’s sleep through the different stages of their development.

I also work with families 1:1 all over Australia and the world, using gentle and responsive sleep training methods.

Thank you for tuning in, happy sleeping!

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