Is it possible to keep our children on their same sleep schedules when the days of summer are longer and less structured? Although it’s not always easy and plenty of challenges exist to make it difficult to keep our little ones well rested during the summer months, it is possible! We all know how easy it is to let sleep schedules fall by the wayside and our usual routines take a back seat when the sun is setting later.
Read on for six tips to help your child get the sleep he needs this summer.
Make sleep a priority
Stick to the bedtime that you know works for your child. An earlier bedtime is the only place to make up for poor day sleep and will help keep your little one from being sleepy and irritable the next day. Staying up late does not result in a later wake time for most children. More often, it results in kids waking earlier in the morning.
Keep your bedtime routine the same no matter where you are putting your child to sleep (home, vacation, camping, etc.). This routine is what he is used to and will allow him to fall asleep easily. Remember that kids respond well to structure.
Although your little one may do lots of requesting for a later bedtime because the sun is still shining, if you stay consistent, he will soon stop asking. When you are deciding whether to stay a bit later at the neighborhood barbecue, think about whether it is worth your little one not getting the sleep he needs. Also, be sure to avoid television and computers at the end of the day.
The ideal sleeping temperature is 65-70 degrees. A cool room will help your child fall asleep and stay asleep. Using blackout shades will help keep the room cool and dark.
You should dress your little ones in a thin cotton onesie. If you use a sleep sack, be sure it is made of a lightweight material.
Most babies travel best at times when they would normally be sleeping, so good options are to start your travels just before nap time, take a red eye, or drive through the night. If your baby is not a car sleeper, plan to leave right after a nap or first thing in the morning. You can use an application on your phone for white noise while in the car or even on the airplane. (Be sure to put your phone on airplane mode so that an incoming call does not wake your sleeping angel.)
Don’t worry what others think
If you know your child does better going to bed at an earlier time, don’t feel badly doing what is best for him. It is hard to stand up to the pressures of relatives and neighbors whose sleep philosophies are different than your own. Always remember that you are your child’s best advocate, and you know what is best for him.
It’s all about balance
Is it really necessary to keep our children on the same sleep schedule year round? An occasional blip in the schedule to stay up late to spend time with Grandma or a missed nap to go to a birthday party shouldn’t cause too much havoc on your little one’s sleep. However, several days of not sticking to the ideal schedule can definitely result in an overtired child. Enjoy your summer with your children, but make their sleep a priority.
Despite the lazier days of summer, kids do best on a consistent structure no matter the season. Be sure everyone in your family is getting the sleep they need for their bodies to be healthy all year round. Happy summer!
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.