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Sleep Problems: My son doesn’t sleep well, should l stop his daytime nap?
My son doesn’t sleep well. He is 2 years old and l have stopped him napping in the day but my mum says this will make it worse, who is right? Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children’s Sleep Clinic answers this question for us.
Your mum is I’m afraid! Pre-school children need a daytime nap. If they are deprived of it they can then become increasingly more hyperactive and find it difficult to fall asleep at night. Try to reintroduce the nap by having a wind down routine and encouraging him to nap in the room where he sleeps at night time.
My child wakes up at 5am every day, it’s too early – help!
Some children are naturally larks and wake earlier in the day. There are however a number of things you can do to try to help your little one to sleep for longer. Consider getting blackout blinds to block the early morning daylight out of the room. Also could they be hungry? If so you may introduce supper before bedtime. You don’t say how old your child is but sleep training clocks can help some children, they show an image rather than the time so that when the child wakes they have a visual clue as to whether it is time to get up or time to go back to sleep.
My daughter loves bedtime stories but doesn’t want them to end. I’m considering not doing them at all anymore, what do you think?
Bedtime stories can be a lovely way to end the day and share special time with your child. Be very clear about when the story will end eg ‘when we get to this page it is time to say goodnight’. Or for children who love to be in control show them two different pages and ask them to choose which page the activity will end on. Don’t negotiate this and once you have completed the story say your goodnights. It would be such a shame not to carry on this lovely activity.
What makes for a good supper time snack?
Avoid anything that is sugar based, certain cereals can be sugar coated and biscuits are full of sugar. Opt for more complex carbohydrates which take longer to digest so keep tummies full. Make sure your child drinks water rather than juice or fizzy drinks as these can act as diuretics and increase the need to urinate. Milk is another good choice to introduce in the bedtime routine.
My child has never slept well and wakes throughout the night, I’ve tried everything – please help!
Many children suffer with sleep issues (and their parents!). The key is finding the cause of the problem and then using the appropriate strategy to overcome it. We take a detailed history of the sleep patterns and explore all possibilities. These may include an over stimulating bedroom environment, pre-bedtime activities, anxiety, diet etc. When the right strategy is identified we then initiate a sleep programme which is carried out for 2 consecutive weeks. By then parents start to see an improvement. We find that quite often parents have tried the strategies that we suggest but not for long enough. Sleep problems can get worse once a new strategy is introduced and it is part of our role to support the parents as they work through this difficult period.
The good news is that the vast majority of children respond to this approach and can learn to sleep well in a relatively short period of time. I would suggest you contact us directly to see if there is support in your area or contact your Health Visitor or School Nurse to see if they are able to offer any support.
For help and advice from The Children’s Sleep Charity visit www.thechildrenssleepcharity.org.uk