If bedtimes are a battle it can leave you exhausted every evening. When your children have special needs it can seem difficult to build a good bedtime routine. Here are five tips to help you from sleep practitioner Victoria Dawson.
1. Start by writing your routine down so you know exactly what’s going to happen when. The act of writing can make you look at what you do at bedtime, and which parts of it are working and which are not.
2. Consider using a visual timetable so that your child knows what is coming next. Take photos or find drawings of your bedtime activities: a meal, bathtime, teethbrushing, story time etc.
5. Fine motor skill activities are a great way of promoting calm in the run up to bedtime. Take time to help your child complete a jigsaw, for example. This is a great alternative to watching television and helps the brain wind down.
3. Try using music in the bedtime routine to promote calmness. Using the same calming tune every night can provide an auditory cue that it is bedtime. There are sound recordings specifically designed for children’s bedtime, some with just music, other with guided relaxation exercises and stories.
4. Seek advice from your child’s therapists. Your OT can provide sensory advice, the physio can help you with information on positioning and the speech therapist on promoting understanding around bedtime.
Sleep and Your Special Needs Child addresses sleep problems using a highly successful behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep management, and is the first book to explain these approaches in detail. The practical advice contained is invaluable for parents who want to feel more in control and more confident about tackling sleep issues in a way that is appropriate for their child. If you need more help, you can also contact The Children’s Sleep Charity. The charity works with children from the age of 1 so they and their parents are supported to get a good night’s sleep.