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As a mom of twins, sometimes sleep is my number one priority. I love my kids but I also count down the hours until nap time and bed-time. My family and friends have called me “the nap police” because I am strict about our toddlers’ sleep routine and schedule. I will skip events if they take place during naptime or after bedtime. I am 100% that mom and I have no shame. Not only is sleep crucial for my kids but my husband and I need that time too. It keeps us sane!
Healthy sleep habits are so important for our little ones. While they’re snoozing they also do the majority of their growing and developing. Sleep is also when our neurotransmitters signal the body to detox all the junk that builds up over the day and can make us sick. Lack of sleep can lead to mood, behavior, and cognitive issues.
We all know that sleep is a necessity of life. You will literally (and figuratively) die if you don’t sleep. Ask any parent! But sometimes it’s not that simple. Little ones have an agenda of their own and they don’t always care about what’s best for them. They don’t think twice about the fact that they are exhausted, you are exhausted, and there’s not enough caffeine in the world to cure “up-all-night-with-baby tired”.
The environment your child sleeps in plays a huge role in their quality of sleep. This space should be a “sanctuary” for them. They should feel safe to drift off into “Peaceful Dreamland” and stay asleep all night (wouldn’t that be lovely). These are my top five tips for creating a tranquil space for your baby or toddler.
1.) WASH AWAY THE DAY
Every night before bed my boys get a bath. This is huge for my little guy with asthma and allergies. Washing your child’s skin and hair will clear away dirt, dust, and allergies. You definitely don’t want them taking all of the day’s germs to bed with them. When my kids are in the tub they automatically start yawning. Something about the sound of the water running and the warmth that puts them in a sleepy mindset. After the bath, they get lotioned up and dressed in some clean jammies. I also make a point to change the sheets every other day. Just writing about a hot bath, clean jammies, and clean sheets is making me tired!
2.) CLEAR THE CLUTTER
A clean room makes for a peaceful mind. I remember one night I could barely sleep because I had hundreds of items sprawled out across our bedroom as I prepared for a garage sale. It was awful! The same goes for kids. Keep their room simple and clear. Shut all closet doors and pick up all of the toys before bedtime. Lots of visible toys can distract them from sleep. I also like to keep things consistent. I won’t rearrange or change up furniture unless absolutely necessary.
3.) FRESH AIR, SWEET DREAMS
The air inside of our homes can get pretty nasty. Indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air. You can minimize this mess by removing carpet, stuffed animals, or any fabric-based items. These items all hold allergens. Our twins’ bedroom has wall to wall carpet so I vacuum it every day and don’t allow anyone to wear shoes in there. Mattress covers will prevent dust mites and bacteria from invading your child’s mattress. We use these.
We also use an air purifier to keep things fresh. I love this one. As soon as we put it in their room, my son’s breathing and asthma symptoms immediately improved.
4.) MAKE SOME NOISE
The first night in the hospital with my newborn twins was rough. I was recovering from a c-section and could barely move. The boys were not nursing well. They were tired, hungry, and wailing. Out of pure desperation, my husband had the idea to play white noise on his phone from Youtube. He even found one that mimicked sounds from inside the womb with a heartbeat. It was like magic. As soon as we played it, they both slept! We ended up buying a sound machine and to this day, my boys still sleep with it on. The white noise drowns out all of the other “house noises” that could potentially wake them up. This is the one we use and love.
We forgot it on vacation once, HUGE MISTAKE. The noise is soothing and helps my boys sleep through the night.
5.) LET THERE BE NO LIGHT
Darkness helps our brain make melatonin which makes us sleepy. Light makes our brain think it should still be awake. This is why it is common advice to avoid TV and other screens before bed. My husband and I like to take the twins on a “night walk” before bed. (In the winter we will go on a drive.) When the sun starts to set, we load them up into the stroller and walk for 15-20 min. They look at books while we stroll. The sun setting signals their little brains to start getting sleepy. Their bedroom is completely dark. I don’t use any nightlights whatsoever. To help keep it extra dark I use these window covers.
Implementing these five tips for your child’s bedtime routine and environment can be a great starting point to building a solid sleep routine.