Summer Sleep Tips for Babies and Toddlers
There are many things about warmer weather that can make getting your baby or toddler to sleep more of a challenge than normal. Your child may have reached the “No, I’m not sleepy” stage. The days are longer with bright sunlight early in the morning and later into the night. And, in many places, summer heat doesn’t dissipate completely by the evening, meaning a humid, uncomfortable temperature for sleeping. Add to this all the activities and adventures your child has during a hot summer day and you’ve got a prime recipe for being too hot to go to sleep.
Daytime Cooling Tips
1) Of course, it’s simple to keep cool if you have air conditioning. If you don’t, spend time in a place that is. Remember, air conditioning can dehydrate a child so it is important to make sure he gets sufficient fluids throughout the day whether inside or outside.
2) No one really feels like cuddling or being close when it’s hot, which can make breastfeeding a challenge. Place a towel, pillowcase, or cloth diaper between your baby and your arm and body. A cool, damp facecloth works as well. Or lie down, so that only baby’s mouth and your breast are touching.
3) If your baby’s skin is warm to the touch, give him a sponge bath with lukewarm water frequently, or bath him more often. Use plain water with no soap, as soap can remove natural oils from the skin.
4) Keep your child hydrated. Don’t wait until he indicates he’s thirsty, particularly if your child is older and more active. If you are breastfeeding full-time and your baby is feeding whenever he needs to, he should be fine. Supplement with cooled, boiled water if you are concerned, and make sure you drink a glass of water at each feeding to maintain your body fluid levels. If you are no longer exclusively breastfeeding, then giving your child water in between feedings is recommended. Extra “snack” breastfeeding sessions or frozen fruit pieces (though these are messy!) are also good ways to keep hydrated.
5) Hang wet towels over chairs or windows. As the water evaporates, it will help cool the air.
Summer Sleep Tips
1) Keep curtains or shades drawn during the day to keep the hot sun out. This will mean a cooler room for sleeping later.
2) If you have air conditioning use a fan, too, to circulate the cool air.
3) In preparation for sleeping, use a fan in your baby’s room to cool it down before bedtime. The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 68 and 72 F (16 and 20 C). If your baby/child is one that needs to snuggle with a blanket, you can probably go a little cooler.
4) Remove unnecessary bedding from his bed or crib.
5) If the back of your baby’s neck is warm to the touch, lay him across your lap or on his bed or on a couch facedown and place a cool (not cold) damp facecloth on the back of his neck (the nape) just below the hair line. Usually only a minute or two is necessary.
6) Another cooling tip (this works for mom and dad too) is to soak the baby’s feet in cool water. This can be in a tub or sink or small pool. My preferred method for bedtime is the bathroom sink with the light turned off. This works during the day, but also when trying to condition baby to sleep. As he cools, he will relax and be more ready (and willing) to go to sleep. On the flip side, if your baby is too cool (and his feet feel cold to the touch) then add socks.
7) Run cool water on his wrists, or splash water on his face or temples. A cool, damp facecloth works for this as well.
8) Remove waterproof sheets or wrap the sheets in several layers of tightly wrapped cotton sheets. (Babycenter.co.uk)
9) Don’t fight them. If your baby or toddler says or indicates that they’re not sleepy, yet … they’re probably really not sleepy yet. This is because a baby’s schedule (and ours) is set by the sun. Since the sun is setting later in the day, so is your child. Readjust bedtime to 30 to 60 minutes later than usual, and continue with your “bedtime” routine that you should have already established. “If your child is testing you, make sure you set firm limits for your toddler and return him promptly to bed, without much interaction. Anything too positive or too negative will make it a game and he will continue to be a ‘jack in the box’. “ (Rookiemoms.com)
10) Make sure the room is as dark as possible. Children are particularly sensitive to light. A darkened room will encourage your child to sleep later in the morning. In preparing for bed, plan quiet activities up to an hour before bedtime. Darkness triggers the natural melatonin response in the body, conditioning us that it’s time to sleep. This is harder to do when the sun is still up.
11) Add white noise to the baby’s room such as a fan (turned so it’s not blowing directly on him). “Babies and toddlers are very sensitive to noise … and something as simple as the paper being delivered or the neighbor’s dog barking is enough to wake your child …” (ParentingStartsHere.com)
12) If you’re going on vacation, make sure you take familiar things from home. Ideally, these will be things that you use in your normal go-to-sleep routine – blanket, teddy, stories, pillow.
13) Stay active. “Sleep is intimately tied to learning and memory consolidation, so to naturally improve your child’s naps [or help him be ready for bedtime], get outside, go to the zoo, play at the park … Just make sure you time your outings so that you have time to come home and wind down for about 30 minutes before nap [or bed] time.” (ParentingStartsHere.com)
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
How to keep your sleeping baby cool in hot weather. Babycenter.co.uk. Web. May 21, 2012.
Summer Sanity – Keeping Baby Cool in Summer. BellyBelly.com.au. Web. May 21, 2012.
“10 not-so-obvious tips for staying cool” Hall, Landon. The Orange County Registery. Web. May 21, 2012.
Baby sleep tips for Summer. RookieMoms.com. Web. May 21, 2012.
Summer Sleep Tips for Your Infant or Toddler. ParentingStartsHere.com. Web. May 21, 2012.
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