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It seems that the warm weather is finally upon us, the older kids only have a few more weeks of school, and soon enough our summer social schedules will come into full swing. After all the hard work that we did to get our children sleeping, we don’t want to let the lazy days of summer put it all to waste. Here are a few tips to keep your children sleeping all summer long.
Keep Bedtime Consistent
Although the summer months bring us longer days, and it can be tempting to let our little ones have an extended bedtime, it is best to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time. The consistent bedtime will allow for predictability of sleep rhythms which ultimately makes it easier for children to fall asleep. The occasional late night isn’t a problem, and a well-rested child can quickly bounce back from a late night, but a child that consistently misses bedtime will be overtired and will likely experience difficulty falling asleep and also experience more night wake ups.
Protect Nap Time and Quiet Time
Children up to the age of 3 (sometimes 4) will still require a nap during the afternoon, even if they feel the summer activities are too exciting to miss. Even older children can benefit from some quiet time as the busy and hot summer days can be exhausting. Protect that afternoon quiet time and offer children a time to unwind and cool down. A child that doesn’t get overtired will be much happier during summer outings and less likely to wake up at night time.
While it is recommended that children nap in a consistent location, i.e. their crib, I also tell my parents that a nap on the go is better than no nap at all. If your busy summer day just doesn’t allow you to get back for a nap, use the stroller, carrier, or car ride – really whatever works, to protect that naptime. If you are going on a road trip, try to plan your drive around nap time so that your little one can snooze on the go. Again, the on the go nap is better than no nap, just try not to make it a daily event!
Prepare the Sleep Environment
As tempting as it may be to say that our children will sleep anywhere, the science tells us that we all sleep better in a dark, cool and quiet space. Set up your child for success and prepare their sleep environment appropriately. Use blackout blinds to keep out the sun during nap time, but also during those early morning hours.
The ideal temperature for sleep is between 20 – 22 degrees Celsius (68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Depending on the temperature of your child’s bedroom you may need to use a fan to help air circulate in warmer rooms. Also if your room is on the warmer side, you will also want to limit bedding and avoid overheating with too many blankets. Using breathable bedding will help keep your child cooler, and ultimately that will result in a better night’s sleep.
As parents, you may also want to reevaluate the cute one-piece pajama. Although it is adorable for the little ones to be dressed is cute one pieces at bedtime it may be too warm in the summer for these outfits. If you have a warm room, a diaper and undershirt may be enough, or perhaps somewhere in between with shorts and a t-shirt.
Setting up a quiet place is also important, but sometimes we can’t control that our neighbors want to enjoy a warm summer night past our little ones’ bedtime. A white noise machine could be a great solution. The white noise can help muffle the sound of neighbors enjoying the weather, or older children playing outdoors while your little one gets ready for bed.
Those little bodies will need a lot of water during those hot summer days and it is not just to keep them cool (although that is important too), but ensuring that your child remains hydrated will also play a part in their sleep. Dehydration can lead to a reduction in melatonin production. Melatonin is our sleep hormone. It makes us drowsy, helps us fall asleep and stay asleep. A reduced level of melatonin can make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep at bedtime. Sugary or caffeinated drinks (which are diuretics) will also make dehydration worse, so stick to water when you can. So keep those cups full of water.
Pack It All For Vacation
There is no such thing as traveling light when you travel with children so in order to keep your bedtime routine as consistent as possible pack it all! Bring the lovie or stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, white noise machine, night light and even a sheet from home. Prepare to keep the routine as normal as possible and it should help your little one calm down before bedtime in a new location. Your little one may need a few extra cuddles or for you to stay close, as it can be scary to sleep in a strange place, and that is ok. You can get back to your regular routine as soon as vacation time is over.
Hopefully, these tips can keep those well-rested families some continued bliss and if you are ready to get your child’s sleep under control, reach out. Family Bliss offers all new families a complimentary initial call. Most families see a drastic improvement in 2 weeks.
Deanna a mom to twin boys and a certified Gentle Sleep Coach ® and founder of Family Bliss. Her journey into the world of infant and child sleep was directly related to her family and the value we put on successful sleep. After extensive research, she came upon the teachings of Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. the Sleep Lady®). She was able to coach her babies to sleep through the night and encourage them to take the naps that they deserved during the day. After endless conversations with other parents about sleep, she realized she could help. She decided to take her awareness, research and knowledge and put it to good use in helping other parents who were sleep deprived and struggling with similar sleep issues.