The Global News and CKNW Health Series will be tackling the issues of sleep and stress. Today’s topic, family sleep patterns.
Babies and toddlers can’t always tell their parents how they feel about sleep, but the rest they do get is extremely important for them.
LISTEN: Getting the family on a healthy sleeping pattern
“When a baby or a toddler is not sleeping well, mom and dad are usually both not sleeping well,” said registered sleep consultant Lara Rabb. “As a result, the family is playing musical beds.”
She said the lack of sleep usually contributes to higher stress levels, as well as anxiety and depression for parents.
“Newborns can largely sleep on the go, kind of whenever wherever. So let them sleep in carriers and wraps, and in the stroller and the car seat. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” said Rabb.
“Newborn sleep is super irregular and unpredictable,” added Rabb, “but when you get to that four-month mark to focus on creating a good wind-down routine for the baby to nap, creating a good bedtime routine.”
Predictable steps include a glass of water, story time, and getting tucked in.
Aside from a bedtime routine, Rabb said having each parent try different methods of putting the child to bed is a good idea.
Another thing that works? Keeping an early bedtime.
“I feel like that is something that needs to continue through the toddler years, the preschooler years, and as well as school-aged children. My daughter is four-and-a-half, and is still asleep every night before 7:30 p.m.,” said Rabb.
She said consistently relying on one thing only to put your child to sleep is a big struggle, especially if a child gets used to only napping in a stroller, car seat, or crib.
Just like adults, said Rabb, when children and babies sleep they actually function better – including their eating habits and behaviour.
“ is so important for toddlers and preschoolers, with all the boundary setting and boundary fighting they’re doing. To be able to handle that kind of pressure with parents and teachers at school and all kinds of different experiences.”
And if they function better, so can the whole family.
“A lot of families want that couple-time again, they want to have family meetings in the evening and work on their relationship during that time.”
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