Living Well: For children, quality of sleep is as important as quantity
Free Baby Boxes for quality sleep
MRH offers free Baby Boxes to help parents provide babies (under 1 year of age) with a safe place to sleep. Baby Boxes are cardboard boxes with a built-in mattress, which are proven to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), that double as bassinets. To get the free box, parents must watch a short educational video. Dr. Linda Couillard at MRH said there are a lot of families that can’t provide their babies with a safe place to sleep so this is a great option that can save a baby’s life.
Call MRH for details at 970-826-8230.
The 4 Bs of Bedtime
These 4 Bs of bedtime has been proven to be one of the most tried-and-true routines for bedtime success — both for babies and older children.
Bathing — Baths are a soothing, hygienic, and decisive way of separating the evening’s eating activities from sleeping. Only the unbelievably fatigued child will sleep his way through a bath. That means that when feeding time is over, your child will get the message that eating is not a cue to go to sleep.
Brushing — Whether you choose to brush your child’s teeth (or gums) right after the last feeding or just before the actual bedtime itself, get in the habit of having a toothbrush (or washcloth or gauze) be the last thing in your baby’s mouth at night (other than, perhaps, a clean pacifier during the first year as an added method of sudden infant death syndrome prevention).
Books — Nothing is more suitable as a breast/bottle stand-in than books at bedtime. Since you don’t want food or drink to become your child’s bedtime source of comfort, books can serve as the perfect cue that it’s time to cuddle up and go to sleep. When it comes to lifelong healthy habits, we can’t think of a better one.
Bedtime — Stick to implementing a routine time for your child to get ready for and get into bed. Once you’ve set the stage so that bathing, brushing, and books signal bedtime, you should just let your child fall asleep independently.
Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org
- Make sufficient sleep a family priority.
- Keep to a regular daily routine.
- Be active during the day.
- Monitor screen time.
- Create a sleep-supportive and safe bedroom and home environment.
- Realize that teens require more sleep, not less.
- Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula.
- Don't start giving solids before about 6 months of age.
- Avoid overscheduling.
- Learn to recognize sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, nighttime awakenings, snoring, stalling and resisting going to bed, sleep apnea, and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping.
- Talk to your child's teacher or child care provider about your child's alertness during the day.
- Talk to your child's pediatrician about sleep.
Children who don’t get enough quality sleep each night have an increased risk of injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression. The kids who get the right sleep have better attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, mental and physical health, and quality of life.
“There are different requirements for sleep depending on each stage of child development. One of the most important things is a consistent routine,” said Dr. Linda Couillard, Pediatrics physician and Medical Director for Memorial Regional Health Clinics. “But it’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters; quality is just as important as quantity.”
Getting quality sleep
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has created guidelines for parents regarding the quantity of sleep children need at each phase of development, and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides helpful tips for how to make that sleep quality sleep.
Sufficient sleep should be a family priority, and parents should be a role model to their children.
“Making sleep a priority for yourself shows your children that it’s part of living a healthy lifestyle—like eating right and exercising regularly,” according to the AAP.
Keeping a daily routine is another essential factor for quality sleep. Just like waking time, meal times, nap times and play times, heading to bed every evening should include a daily routine (see factbox about the The 4 Bs of Bedtime).
The AAP also recommends monitoring screen time and keeping all electronic screens out of children’s bedrooms, especially at night. To prevent sleep disruption, the AAP recommends turning off all screens at least 60 minutes before bedtime.
“It’s always good to have that wind-down period before bed,” Couillard said. “Allowing the mind and body to relax in order to have good, restful sleep is important at any age.”
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