Sleep Advice for Little Ones
Dr Nerina Ramlakham, professional sleep expert and physiologist, offers her advice on helping your child settle quicker and sleep deeper during these uncertain times
Bedding That Comforts
- The sense of touch is very key for children.
- Most children will have a favoured stuffed toy but they might also benefit from the feeling of a velvety throw or heavy blanket – something that feels comforting against their skin and soothes their nervous system.
- Ask them what feels good to them.
- The sense of smell is closely linked to feeling safe – even if it’s just at a subconscious level.
- Experiment with scents such as lavender and eucalyptus oils particularly if you use this in your own bedroom.
- Put a few drops on a tissue and ask them to tell you what smells good and whether it makes them feel good.
Reassurance and Rest
- If your child is going through a tough patch with their sleep try to reassure them as much as possible.
- If the word ‘sleep’ is becoming a bit of a stress-inducer encourage them to think about resting rather than sleeping.
- One of my favourite techniques for helping little ones to get to sleep if they are upset (it works beautifully with adults too – try it and see for yourself!). Get them comfy in bed and then ask them to think of as many nice things that happened in their day as possible and how it made them feel. Ask them where did it feel good in your body? They might need some initial prompting and will then often say – it felt good in my tummy or in my chest.
- Gently prompt them to recapture that feeling in their body may be by placing their hand on their belly or chest and breathing into that spot.
The Perfect Bedtime Story
- A carefully crafted story that has just the right words, rhythm and sound can induce a powerful sense of inner safety for children.
- Teach your child this beautiful meditation by saying it out loud to them and getting them to silently repeat it to themselves.
- I love my right foot
- I love my right big toe
- I love my right little toe
- I love all the toes of my right foot
- I love the top of my right foot
- I love the bottom of my right foot
- I love my right ankle
- I love my left foot… And so on…..
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Dr Nerina Ramlakhan has worked as a professional physiologist and sleep therapist for 25 years. Nerina is author of Tired But Wired (Souvenir Press, 2010), Fast Asleep, Wide Awake (Thorsons, 2016), and The Little Book of Sleep: The Art of Natural Sleep (Gaia, 2018)