1. Dress for sleep success. The optimal temperature range for healthy sleep is 68-72 degrees. If you have air conditioning, dress your baby in a lightweight sleeping bag over a long-sleeved onesie. Check your baby’s feet; if they feel a little cool, that’s fine. If they’re quite chilly, add socks. No air conditioning? Try the sleeping bag over a short-sleeved onesie and skip the socks. Feel the back of your child’s neck. If it is hot, she’s probably too warm, so try cooling her room down by turning on a fan.
2. Keep it quiet. Is your child waking up in the early morning hours or having trouble staying asleep during naps? Babies and toddlers are very sensitive to noise at these times and something as simple as the paper being delivered or the neighbor’s dog barking is enough to wake your child up at an inappropriate time. Continuous white noise is essential for blocking out these random sleep disturbances and can help your baby or toddler stay asleep. Our favorite white noise machine is the SleepMate white noise machine, because it stays on all night to block out noises when they are most disruptive.
3. Dark, Dark, Dark. If your child gets up too early try darkening her room. The body’s most sensitive time to light is in the early morning hours and these beautiful summer sunrises can be anything but beautiful if your baby or toddler is up with the sun every day. Not all black out shades are made the same, so make sure you do a little research before making an investment. If you’re not ready to make the plunge, try putting tin foil or a blanket over the windows in your child’s room. It might not be pretty, but the extra sleep you get in the morning will feel heavenly.
4. Enjoy your summer vacation. Really! Bring a few familiar things from your child’s home environment like a lovey, blanket and favorite bedtime book with you on vacation to ease wake to sleep transitions. Try to keep your child’s nap schedule and bedtime the same if you can, but don’t worry if this doesn’t happen every day. When you return home, go back to your home sleep rules and in just a few days your baby should be back to normal even if things were a little off while you were on vacation.
5. Stay active. Sleep is intimately tied to learning and memory consolidation, so to naturally improve your child’s naps, get outside, go to the zoo, play at the park or take a class at Isis! Just make sure that you time your outings so that you have time to come home and wind down for about 30 minutes before nap time.
Erin Evans, PhD, and Meg Casano, MS, RN, Isis Senior Sleep Specialists
Request a Private Sleep Consult by calling 781.429.1500.