It is not by any means difficult to raise one single child and turn the up-bringing process into hard labor, train yourself as a mother-heroine, and make life of your family full of deeds of valor. To achieve this, the only thing you need is to have insufficient sleep.
That is why please understand and remember the main rule: healthy child’s sleep is a sleep when the entire family – adults and children sleep soundly and sweetly.
The organization of children’s sleep is organization of healthy sleep for all family members.
The easiest thing involved in the above mentioned organization is purchasing a high-quality nappy, and this, in fact, is the only friend of children’s sleep which is evidently available without your parental participation – it has been developed and made for you without your input, by other people.
Everything else depends only on you.
This is because sleep is closely linked to all the other constituents of your life style – food, walks, clothes, hygienic procedures, etc.
Healthy food, open-air games, tidying your accommodation, bathing, as well as soft, clean, and dry bedding – all of these factors require time, will, knowledge and skills.
So make sure you read, learn and act.
Rule 1. Put your priorities right
The family is fully-functioning, happy and fit to work only when parents have a chance to sleep for 8 hours during the day.
The child needs healthy, refreshed parents who are in a loving relationship more than anything else in the world – more than food and drink, more than sleep and fresh air.
Rule 2. Make up your mind on your sleeping regime
From their birth a child’s regime has to fit into their family’s regime.
Prepare for night sleep beforehand and prepare your child for it too. Identify the time when night sleep begins and make it the time convenient to you! From 9 pm until 5 am? Let it be! From 11 pm until 7 am? As you wish! Have you made your choice? Try to adhere to it.
Rule 3. Decide where to sleep and who with
Theoretically and practically there are three options:
- child’s bed in the parents’ bedroom – optimal option for first year children and acceptable until the child is about three years old;
- child’s bed in the child’s bedroom is ideal for anybody over one years old;
- sharing bed with parents – a fashionable kick not encouraged by the majority of pediatricians and having nothing to do with healthy children’s sleeping.
Rule 4. Don’t be afraid to wake a sleepyhead
If you want your child to sleep well during the night don’t allow any excessive sleep during the day. Is it not entirely clear? We are willing to explain.
The average daily sleep requirement for children is as follows: up to 3 months – 16-20 hours; 6 months – 14.5 hours; 12 months – 13.5 hours; 2 years – 13 hours; 4 years – 11.5 hours; 6 years – 9.5 hours; 12 years – 8.5 hours.
So now we know that a child who is 6 months old is supposed to be asleep for approximately 14.5 hours during the day. If we want to have peaceful sleep for 8 hours during the night, the daily sleep shouldn’t exceed 6.5 hours. This said, if you sleep for 9 hours during the day you can hardly hope for 8 hours of sleep during the night.
Don’t be afraid to wake up a sleepyhead!
Rule 5. Optimize feeding
In the first three months of their life children can eat 1-2 times during the night. At the age of 3-6 months it is possible to reduce it to a single night feeding. After 6 months, the child doesn’t biologically need any night feeding.
The child may want to be picked up, the child may require communication, sucking, hissing, swinging and require this increasingly longer and more often as the requirements are satisfied.
Set the rules of the game once and for all. Is it allowable to use mother not for feeding, but to meet the needs of sucking? Is it acceptable that dad, who, by the way, has to go to work tomorrow, is baby rocking half of the night, and singing at the same time? If you think it is fine – you are free to allow it, but you may forget about any healthy sleep of the child.
Try to underfeed your child slightly during the feeding before last and feed to make them full directly before bedtime. Remember, hunger is certainly not the only cause for weeping, and don’t stuff children's mouths with food at the first squeak. Overfeeding is the main cause of abdominal pain and related sleep disorders.
Rule 6. Spend your day well
Live actively, walk, sleep during the day in the fresh air, and encourage exploring of the world and active games.
Physical activities (without extremes) definitely contribute to a healthy baby sleep.
Limitation of any evening emotional stress has a positive effect on sleep.
Quiet games, peaceful reading of fairy tales, watching some familiar cartoon and, finally, mother's nursery rhyme or a song - what could be better to prepare a child for sleeping through to next morning...
Rule 7. Think of the air in the bedroom
Clean, cool, moist air in the bedroom is an immutable rule.
Fresh air, wet cleaning, a humidifier, thermometer and hygrometer, adjusting controls on heating radiators are essential.
- The optimum air temperature is 18-20 °C, if we talk about the child’s room (i.e. the place where the child doesn’t only sleep, but lives as well); if we are talking about the children's bedroom, the best temperature is 16-18 °C.
- Optimum relative humidity of 50-70%.
Rule 8. Use bathing opportunities
Evening bathing in a large bath in cool water is a great way to get physically tired, then to eat with great appetite and sleep until morning.
Massage and gymnastics prior to swimming, hygiene procedures and warm clothes after it serve to enhance the usefulness of the actual bathing.
Rule 9. Prepare the bed
The mattress shall be thick and smooth - the body weight of the baby should not lead to subsidence. Until you turn two years old you need no pillows. After you are two, the use of pillow is quite possible (standard size baby pillow 40 x 60 cm, and its thickness should be approximately equal to the width of the child's shoulder).
Bed linen shall be made of natural fabrics, and washed with the use of special child powders with a thorough rinsing.
Rule 10. Make sure you have high-quality nappies
Disposable nappies are the most effective of all human inventions related to sleep. It is disposable nappies, which can effectively improve the sleep of all family members.
A good nappy for the night - it's the law, it is the most accessible and easily-implemented rule out of 10 baby sleep rules.
You want the child to have a soft smooth bottom, and you want to sleep all night yourself? So, you need a good nappy – high quality, convenient, reliable, proven, effective and safe.
(Перевод на английский язык статьи Е.О. Комаровского «10 правил здорового детского сна» любезно сделан Юлией Хейлетт.)