Establishing a Good Sleep Routine - can music play a part?
Getting good, consistent sleep is an important part of baby, toddler and child development. If your child doesn't get enough sleep consistently you are likely to notice behaviour changes which can obviously affect things like eating and social interaction.
You may not notice the impact it has on their learning and development in this overt way however science shows that lack of sleep will have a detrimental impact on brain development.
OK - so we know how important sleep is. How do we ensure they get enough.
The raising children network has already written terrific articles on sleep and how to establish and promote good sleep routines.
See their 12 tips for good sleep habits here:
Here's some facts to start with:
Recommended amounts (from Raising Children Network)
Babies 2 - 12 months 9-12 hours
Toddlers 10-12 hours (night) and 1-2 hours (day)
Preschoolers 11-13 hours
School age 10-11 hours
Tip number 3. on their list is:
Relax before bed
Encourage your child to relax before bedtime. A regular bedtime routine of bath, story and bed help younger children feel ready for sleep. Older children and grown-ups might like to wind down by reading a book, listening to gentle music or practising breathing for relaxation. This helps the body get ready to catch a ‘wave’ of sleepiness when it comes.
The use of music is listed here as a way to relax/wind down so here's some of our recommendations based on what works really well in our classes.
Art of Rhythmic Rocking
In our baby classes we love to teach the art of rhythmic rocking. The health nurses recommend a newborn baby routine of sleep, feed and play. At the conclusion of your play session or when you notice those tired cues it is the perfect time to put on your favourite (calm) song and try some rhythmic rocking.
Stand up and hold your baby in a comfy position.
Put on your favourite rocking song
Feel the beat and start rocking in time
Try rocking forward and back or side to side
Keep a consistent beat - don't stop or change rhythm (this is the key)
Baby may grizzle - keep with the beat (stay strong)
Sing/hum along as well (baby loves your voice)
Our favourites songs for this activity are:
You Are My Sunshine - Elizabeth Mitchell
Hey Soul Sister - Train
All the Pretty Little Horses - Charlotte Church
Time For Bed - Baby Love Music Fun
Music For My First Milestones by Baby Love Music Fun
On our popular CD we've done the hardwork for you. The format is structured like a 30 minute music class/play with a built in wind-down at the end. It contains 10 tracks, 8 playful and active songs and the last 2 are lullabies. Parents often state that the kids are asleep by the end track - especially if used in the car (a captive audience)
You can now download this special album via Itunes here -
Nigh' Nigh' Sleepy Head
Have you noticed that often the best parenting things come from other parents who need to create a solution to a problem they are having themselves. Earlier this year we had a visit from Deb Herdman and Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head - we were very interested to hear her new sleep lullaby music. Deb was faced with her own son being a problem sleeper and created her beautiful product that parents can immediately use to create the 'sleep time' routine together.
In the class a large mixed ages group went from marching and banging drums to sitting down listening to Deb's song and snuggling in with our teddies. The effect on the children and group was instant. Very Zen!
What's terrific about this music is that it is instantly soothing, easy to sing along and it goes for 47 minutes, so no danger that the mood can change/shift with a different song coming on.
Together you can dress up the gorgeous snuggly sleepy bear in his PJ's while you listen to music. You can even get matching PJ's for your little one - so that they can match the bear :)
We also have a night owl 5 year old who can be difficult to get to wind down and sleep. Miss 5 responded very well to Deb's music and loves her sleepy bear. I kid you not every time we use the music she yawns as soon as she hears it.
The only thing I will say is that we don't use this every night but rather save it for special nights when I can see that she is a bit over excited or over tired and needs a bit of extra help. Our theory is that we wouldn't want her to not be able to sleep without this music (sleep-over, CD gets damaged (uh-oh)...it's pretty powerful stuff. Now that she is reading (Prep) we have noticed that she is much better at getting herself relaxed and ready for sleep and encourage her to read, during this time the music is also very relaxing for her.
Music & Stories
Toddlers love stories and until they can read themselves it can be difficult to get them to look at books in bed by themselves.
Enter the musical story. There are heaps on the market at the moment and lots of them a lovely songs accompanies by beautiful books/pictures.
At home we've been collecting the Koala Books series of songs and CD's - which Big W and other stores stock but I've provided links below to online stores as well.
Puff the Magic Dragon
Over the Rainbow
When You Wish Upon a Star
Time For Bed - Baby Love Music Fun
This song was written to go with the beautiful bedtime book, Time For Bed by Mem Fox.
Kids love to find the moon on every page and listen for the animal sounds in the track.
Do you have any great musical finds that you find help your little one relax, unwind and get ready for sleep?
Please feel free to share them with our readers.