Sleep plays a huge role in the healthy development of children. Children need about 10 hours of sleep each day, but the reality is that many children today are not getting this much sleep. Parents know how important sleep is to provide their children a happy, healthy life until they can learn on their own.
However, many sleeping mistakes happen because parents may be too stressed or unaware of the best sleeping practices. In this article, we will look into 16 mistakes parents make that hurt their children:
Sleeping Mistake #1: Not having a bedtime routine with lots of talking, cuddling, and reading
Having bedtime routines is crucial in helping children settle down for bed, but not all routines are created equal. The best bedtime routines for children consist of the following elements: lots of talking, cuddling, and reading.
These activities help calm children by activating the so-called "love hormone," or the hormone responsible for making us feel good: oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for helping children to self-regulate their emotions and encourage sleep. Its function is associated with bonding, trust, and a sense of security.
A calming bedtime routine is helpful for the whole family because it sets a safe space. There's less yelling, less hitting, and less stress for the adults in the house, which creates a more peaceful environment for everyone.
Sleeping Mistake #2: Letting children continue to play after they are tired
One of the most common sleep mistakes parents make is not putting their children to bed at the appropriate time. This leads to children being too tired to sleep, leading to them playing for hours. Despite the fun they may have, this will harm their quality of sleep and, therefore, their health and wellbeing over time.
Sleeping Mistake #3: Not making their bedroom a comfortable place to sleep in
It is important for parents to create a comfortable atmosphere for their child to sleep in. This includes making sure that their bedroom has a good mattress, the right temperature, and is free of any distractions like TV or lights.
You need to make sure that your child’s room is dark and cool enough. The light from screens, streetlights or other sources of light can disrupt their circadian rhythm and make it difficult for them to fall asleep.
Sleeping Mistake #4: Giving the last feeding or snack before putting baby to sleep
A sleeping mistake many parents make is to give the last feeding or snack of the day before putting the baby down to bed. This can lead to babies who are too full and uncomfortable when they finally do decide to sleep, as well as parents who struggle with their baby's fussiness after a late-night feeding.
Sleeping Mistake #5: Helping a child go to sleep by staying up later
Another common sleep mistake parents make to help their children sleep by staying up later. As a result, some children may feel abandoned, don't want the parent to leave, and develop an association between going to sleep and being apart from the parent.
Although you may think keeping a child up longer is a great idea since,
"My child can fall asleep faster and stay asleep when he's tired."
However, frequently doing this results in overtiredness. Children can only handle a few hours of "wake time" or "window time" before returning to bedtime. The damaging effects of overtiredness include difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, and early rising. According to Hera, R. (2021), the table below shows the age-appropriate recommended window hours for children:
Sleeping Mistake #6: Skipping the bedtime routine
Skipping the bedtime routine can be common, but sticking to a bedtime routine is one of the best ways to prepare for a child's restful sleep. You'll find that a routine before bed can be calming and help regulate your child's body's natural sleep cycle.