Put your baby to sleep on his back
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Sleep

Sleep is very important for children. Sleep directly impacts your child’s mental and physical growth and development. It also keeps your child’s immune system strong.

Sleep 0-1

Your newborn will sleep 16-18 hours in total per day. As he ages, this decreases to approximately 14 hours of sleep per day.

Your child needs sleep to grow. Sleep renews your child physically. It is during sleep that everything a child learns during the day is processed. Finally, it gives your child the opportunity to be alone and separate from you.

Back to Sleep

Put your baby to sleep on his back. This decreases his risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the leading cause of death in healthy infants up to one year of age. SIDS occurs when a healthy baby dies suddenly during sleep.

Continue to place your baby on his back to sleep, even if she can roll over by herself. When a baby can roll off her back by herself, it is safe for her to sleep in a different position.

Safest Place for Sleep

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib, cradle, or bassinet. Health Canada recommends that parents share a room with their baby for the first six months. This can help you respond to your baby when he needs you.

Bed sharing is not recommended. Bed sharing is when an adult sleeps with the baby on the same surface, like a bed or couch. Bed sharing increases the risk of your baby dying from SIDS or suffocation.

Babies should not be put to sleep on water beds, air mattresses, couches, futons, or armchairs. Sleeping on these surfaces can increase the risk of suffocation.

Your baby’s crib should be empty except for his mattress and a fitted sheet. Loose bedding and other objects in the crib can cause suffocation. Avoid having comforters, heavy blankets, quilts, pillows, foam padding, stuffed toys, bumper pads, and sleep positioners in the crib.

If your baby falls asleep in his stroller, baby carrier, or car seat, move him to a safe place to sleep once you have reached your destination.

Make sure there are no hazards around the crib, bassinet, or cradle. Hazards can include blind cords, electrical cords, electrical plugs, baby monitors, lamps, and windows. For more information about safety, please click here.

Too Hot or Too Cold

The temperature of the room your baby is sleeping in should be warm enough for short sleeves. She does not need to be covered with a heavy blanket. Sleep sacks are a good option.

Night Time Waking

Night time waking can be a major concern for parents. Perhaps you have gone back to work, or you are exhausted from the constant care of your baby. It is important to get enough sleep yourself.

Try to sleep when the baby sleeps. Ask family and friends to help with the housework so you can sleep.

Perhaps your partner could take over care at night so you only have to wake up for feeding. Family or friends can help with night time feedings if you express your breast milk in advance.

When your child does wake in the night for feeding, keep the room calm and dim. Try not to do anything that will stimulate or waken the baby fully, like watching TV or listening to loud music. White noise is relaxing noise that helps to block out background noises. Sometimes white noise can help people sleep.

Routine

Once your child is six months old, it is time to begin helping him form healthy sleep habits. Your baby will be awake for longer periods during the day and asleep for longer periods at night.

As much as possible, put your baby in his crib to sleep. Put your baby in his crib when he is drowsy but not yet asleep. This helps him learn to associate the crib with sleep.

Your child will have a hard time sleeping if he is overtired. Letting your child nap during the day will help avoid this.

From six months to one year old, your baby may get restless or wake up at night. By this age, he probably does not need to be fed at night. Try to keep your baby in the crib if he wakes up at night. Rub his back. Talk to him. Sing soothing songs. Remaining in his crib helps your baby develop the ability to soothe himself back to sleep.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. SIDS is the leading cause of death in healthy infants between one month and one year of age in Canada. SIDS can happen in any home. Below is a list of some things you can do to help to prevent SIDS.

  • Always put your baby to sleep on her back. Use picture from website under.
  • Do not use bumper pads, quilts, toys, and pillows in the bassinet, crib, or cradle.
  • Do not use clothes that will cover your baby’s head.
  • Make sure your baby’s mattress is firm and flat.
  • Keep the room temperature and your baby’s clothes comfortable and not too hot or cold.
  • Make sure no one smokes tobacco around your baby.
  • Do not use car seats, strollers, swings, and infant carriers for sleep. If your baby falls asleep in one of these, take your baby out as soon as you can.
  • If you have twins or multiples, each should have her own separate sleep surface.

Room Temperature and Baby’s Clothes

If dressed appropriately, your baby will be comfortable at room temperature. If you feel cool, your baby probably needs an extra sweater or blanket. Your baby’s back should feel comfortably warm, not cold or sweaty.

Do not overdress your baby. In really warm weather, a diaper and light shirt or sleeper are enough.

Tobacco Smoke

Young children are very vulnerable to the effects of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Children absorb more chemicals from smoke because:

  • they breathe faster than adults
  • they inhale more air relative to their body weight
  • they have a higher metabolism rate than adults

For more information about tobacco use, please click here.

Sleeping 1-3 Years

Toddlers should be getting between 10 and 13 hours of sleep a day. This includes night time sleeping and napping.

Your child needs sleep to grow. Sleep renews your child mentally and physically. It is during sleep that everything a child learns during the day is processed. Finally, it gives your child the opportunity to be alone and separate from you.

Creating Bedtimes and Routines

A regular bedtime and a bedtime routine help children to relax and quiet down. Set a regular bedtime. Choose a time when your child gets naturally sleepy. Help your child to begin to wind down a half hour before bedtime. Set up a quiet ritual that may include a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, cuddling, or singing a song.

bedtime routine help children to relax and quiet down

Bedtime routines make children feel secure. Your child feels that she can trust and know what to expect from her environment. Routines help her feel calm enough to fall asleep.

Your child may try everything to keep you with her at bedtime. At this time, she is beginning to work on separating from you. Be gentle, but firm.

Rocking your child to sleep can be a wonderful experience for both you and your child. Even older children like to be rocked when they are ill or upset. As your child gets older, she will find ways to settle herself. She may find a favourite lullaby or a soft blanket soothing.

Your child cannot sleep well if she feels tense, unhappy, or neglected. Your child needs your attention. By spending a few minutes getting her settled, you will have more time for your needs later and your child will have a restful sleep.

Nap Time

Your child will have a hard time sleeping if he is overtired. Naps can help improve your child’s mood, level of alertness, and ability to learn. However, do not let your child nap too close to bedtime or too late in the afternoon as this may interfere with sleeping at night.

As your child gets closer to the age of three, he may begin to give up on his afternoon nap. This is a very difficult time of change for both parents and children. Your child seems to need the sleep, yet he does not want to give in to it. This can result in a cranky situation by night time.

If your child does not want to sleep at nap time, try quiet time instead. This strategy will be better than trying to force your child to nap. Quiet time will help your child rest and have energy for the rest of the day.

quiet time

Night time Waking

Night time waking is a problem most parents have to deal with. There is no easy solution. If your child wakes at night, you can often settle him by reassuring him that you are near. You can do this without turning on the light or picking him up.

Nightmares

A nightmare is usually a dream that involves some real or imagined threat. Fears are common at this stage of your child’s life and these fears can cause nightmares. Sometimes, nightmares are triggered by something that has happened to your child during the day. It can also be triggered by change in the child’s life.

Nightmares

If your child wakes from a nightmare, you may find her half asleep or sitting up sobbing. Children often remember either the content of the nightmare or the feelings that went with it when they wake up. Usually, you can console a toddler by repeating words of comfort such as “Mommy [or Daddy] is here. You just had a dream. You are safe.” Your child needs constant reassurances of your continued love and her safety. Don’t ignore your child’s fear.

Night Terrors

During a night terror, your child will be intensely afraid, flail, and scream. Each night terror lasts only a few seconds or minutes. A child can have several per night. Children often do not remember the night terrors.

Symptoms of night terrors are listed below.

  • Sitting up in bed
  • Screaming or shouting
  • Kicking or thrashing
  • Sweating
  • Breathing heavily
  • Racing pulse
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Unable to be consoled
  • Staring wide-eyed
  • Confusion when waking up
  • Engaging in aggressive behaviours
  • Sleepwalking
  • Getting out of bed

Night terrors do not usually have any lasting effects on the child. However, if your child has disrupted sleep for a long period of time, develops a fear of falling asleep, or is being injured while having a night terror, take your child to see a healthcare provider.

Sleeping 3-5

Preschoolers need 10-12 hours of sleep a day.

Your child needs sleep to grow. Sleep renews your child mentally and physically. It is during sleep that everything a child learns during the day is processed. Finally, it gives your child the opportunity to be alone and separate from you.

Bedroom

Try to keep a child’s bedroom as a comfortable, cozy, and safe spot. Do not place a television, computer, or video games in his bedroom.

Drinks and Food

Avoid giving your child food or drinks, except water, after she has brushed her teeth for bed.

Routine

Bedtime routines, including a time to go to bed, are still very important. These provide opportunities for quietness and soothing while preparing for bed. Routines will also help your child feel safe and secure. Tucking your child in can increase your child’s feelings of security.

Bedtime routines

Set limits to your child’s requests for delayed bedtimes. There may be special times when it is alright to delay bedtime, for example, if you are visiting Grandpa and Grandma. However, limiting the times that you delay bedtime will reinforce the routine and prevent ongoing power struggles.

Even if your child does not nap regularly, there may be times that a nap is needed. For example, if your child is sick or has had a very busy day.

Night Time Waking

Night time waking is a problem most parents have to deal with. There is no easy solution. If your child wakes at night, you can often settle him by reassuring him that you are near. You can do this without turning on the light or picking him up.

Nightmares

A nightmare is usually a dream that involves some real or imagined threat. Fears are common at this stage of your child’s life and these fears can cause nightmares. Sometimes, nightmares are triggered by something that has happened to your child during the day. It can also be triggered by change in the child’s life.

Nightmares

If your child wakes from a nightmare, you may find her half asleep or sitting up sobbing. Children often remember either the content of the nightmare or the feelings that went with it when they wake up. Usually, you can console a toddler by repeating words of comfort such as “Mommy [or Daddy] is here. You just had a dream. You are safe.” Your child needs constant reassurances of your continued love and her safety. Don’t ignore your child’s fear.

Night Terrors

During a night terror, your child will be intensely afraid, flail, and scream. Each night terror lasts only a few seconds or minutes. A child can have several per night. Children often do not remember the night terrors.

Symptoms of night terrors are listed below.

  • Sitting up in bed
  • Screaming or shouting
  • Kicking or thrashing
  • Sweating
  • Breathing heavily
  • Racing pulse
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Unable to be consoled
  • Staring wide-eyed
  • Confusion when waking up
  • Engaging in aggressive behaviours
  • Sleepwalking
  • Getting out of bed

Night terrors do not usually have any lasting effects on the child. However, if your child has disrupted sleep for a long period of time, develops a fear of falling asleep, or is being injured while having a night terror, take your child to see a healthcare provider.

Quiz

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