With spring quickly unfolding to the point that it’s felt like summer over the past couple of weeks, the warmer evenings and extra hours of daylight may have some of you concerned about keeping bedtime on track. Of course we want to enjoy these nice nights with our little ones; however, we don’t want our great routines to unravel, leaving us with overtired, cranky children who fight sleep and commonly wake up far too early in the morning because of it.
Here are my Top 3 Tips to help you reach the right balance between enjoying the warmer evenings while still keeping your child’s sleep needs intact.
Try to start planning your dinner a little bit earlier to allow for ample time for fresh air and outside play after you’ve eaten. This will do a couple of things for your family: studies show fresh air during the late afternoon/early evening helps to make falling asleep at bedtime easier; it also will ensure that your little ones feel as though they had “enough” time to play and burn off their last energy of the day. Go for a walk, play in the yard or visit a park after dinner; take advantage of this family time together and get away from electronics, which have a detrimental affect on sleep.
Use Light as a Sleep Signal
Light is the most powerful time cue our bodies have, so use this to your advantage when preparing for sleep. Once you’ve come inside for the day, draw your blinds, say goodnight to the sun and keep light to a minimum an hour or so before you want your child to go to bed. This will help stimulate melatonin production, making them sleepier. I highly recommend using blackout blinds at this time of year to ensure for a dark room not only when your child is falling asleep but also when the sun comes up in the morning. There are lots of options out there now that can fit anyone’s budget.
Keeping bedtime routines consistent is very important as it helps remind your child what is expected of them each night. As always, I recommend including a bath in this; however, with the warmer weather I suggest a cool bath to help your child’s body temperature regulate before heading to bed. Being too hot when trying to fall asleep isn’t easy for anyone. Dressing them appropriately for bed is another thing to keep in mind. Short-sleeved tops and shorts rather than pants are great options for warm nights. Onesies and lighter sleep sacks are perfect for babies. Think about what you would wear to bed and dress them similarly. An ideal room temperature for a child is between 18 and 21 °C. Draw their blinds early and set up fans as needed to ensure that they are going into a dark, cool and comfortable sleeping environment.
Of course, best-laid plans don’t always happen and there is sure to be a late night here and there. If you have given your child the sleep skills they need to adjust every now and again, there is absolutely no harm in that late baseball game or visit to the ice cream shop. Just make sure that it’s the exception to the rule and not the rule, and enjoy the sunshine everyone!!