How to create a sleep routine in the little ones?
Routines are the result of activities that we do out of habit. For this reason, they are a very useful tool when it comes to creating good habits in children and, thus, achieving long-term benefits.
The benefits of a sleep routine are many, starting with good spirits, the ability to concentrate during the day and the hormonal balance of our body. In addition, getting enough hours of sleep allows our body to carry out processes that can only be carried out while we rest. In turn, during the sleep stage the brain classifies the day's information and creates long-term memories, thanks to the so-called Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
Now that we know the benefits of a good rest, comes the million dollar question: how to create a sleep routine?
First we must start by establishing that a routine should be made up of activities that are easy to remember and repeat regardless of where our children are. This will be of great help in specific situations such as traveling or when sleeping at the house of a family member or friend.
It is also important to plan the activities of the day in relation to the hours of sleep recommended for the child's age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the recommended hours of sleep according to age are the following:
- 4 to 12 months of age: 12-16 hours of sleep (including naps)
- From 1 to 2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
- From 3 to 5 years old: 10-13 hours (including naps)
- From 6 to 12 years old: 9-12 hours
- From 13 to 18 years old: 8-10 hours
Taking into account these data, we can organize the activities before bedtime. A routine, to propose a good rest, could be, for example, the following:
- Have dinner. It is crucial that dinner is made at least an hour before bedtime and that you do not eat again, especially while in bed. What you can do is simply drink water.
- Take a bath and put on pajamas. It will depend on the household routine: for example, there are families who prefer to take the bath in the morning and others at night. Bathing at night can help your baby achieve that state of relaxation that leads to sleep.
- Brushing teeth. This is an activity that we do mechanically as adults and that has to do with habits acquired in childhood. Here, the important thing is to teach young children to do it correctly.
- A quiet moment with mom and dad. Once in bed or in the child's room, it is advisable to share a moment, preferably in dim light. You can take advantage of this moment, for example, to talk about how the day went or read a story.
- Good night. Now is the time to leave the room: say good night to the baby and cuddle him. The time to turn off the lights and go to sleep has come.
A sleep routine can begin to work from an early age, although always being aware of the stages of development of our children and the modifications that we will have to carry out in the routine. We cannot expect a baby just a few months old to sleep through the night, but we can implement a routine so that as she grows older she will recognize signs that bedtime is approaching. At the same time, it should be remembered that routines should not be entirely strict: we can vary the activities that take place before turning off the lights.