For so many children, going to bed in the dark can be frightening - for months they don't mind going to bed with the lights out and suddenly they develop a fear of darkness, are worried about what's under the bed or nervous of what's lurking in the wardrobe. Here are a few activities to reassure them and lessen the threat of darkness terrors by playing a few games that use a torch to light the way.
Hunt the teddies - Hide a few teddies around the room prior to bed time and turn off the lights. With a torch search for them together and discover their hiding places. You could make it a bit crazy by hiding some things that don't belong in a bedroom. Hide a few wooden spoons from the kitchen or new toilet rolls or plastic food bowls. You could hide some family photos too and see who can be discovered.
Who's under the bed? - Show your little ones that there is nothing under the bed to be scared of. Ask them to choose a couple of favourite teddies to stay under the bed and look after the bed during the night. They could easily report back in the morning that there was nothing to be afraid of. Similarly put a couple of trusty teddies in the wardrobe to stand guard during the night.
Finding things - Another activity for slightly older children would be to find really small things like small pompoms or cotton wool balls. Give them a collecting bucket and tell them they need to find all 12 pompoms that you have hidden. Then try it again but this time in the dark, just using the torch to see.
Sleeping Mummy - Hide yourself in a room and cover with a blanket or toys and see if your little one can find you just using a torch. Pretend to be sleeping when they do discover you. Try to avoid jumping out to startle them though... the aim is to build their confidence rather than scare them!
Most adults need at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours in order to function properly and some need as much as eight hours, but new parents, research shows, get less than four hours sleep each night because of disturbances created by their children. This major deficit in sleep required to function properly can lead to mood swings, depression, arguments and even break-ups.
As many as 12% of parents get less than 2.5 hours sleep per night. 1,000 parents were questioned to mark national Love Your Bed week. It does seems unfair that a side effect of being a new parent renders you unfit to actually be a new parent by making you into a confused, exhausted person existing in a sleep-walking state.
Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
- Sleep derivation can leave you feeling disorientated, confused and irritable.
- It can effect your work and home life and indeed your feelings towards your baby because you blame them for your lack of sleep.
- It can be more difficult to handle stress or emotions and make you more clumsy and accident-prone.
- It can result in weight gain as the metabolism changes and appetite can be altered.
- Over time the immune system becomes less efficient making you prone to illness.
Coping with lack of sleep
Cat nap - take cat naps when ever you can during the day. Ensure the baby is safe or get someone to come and look after baby while you take a rest. Avoid napping in the evening as this may interrupt your sleep pattern.
Cure for lack of sleep
There is only one: get some sleep!
No, they don't, but there are some useful tips to help those who seem to wake as soon as the early morning sun tickles the horizon...
In the summer months, many parents complain that their toddler wakes up too early and a child that used to sleep until 8am is now up and raring to go at 6am. Toddlers need at least eleven hours sleep a night. If there are getting much less than this, something needs to be done.
There are two types of children that wake up too early.
- Those who wake before they have enough sleep
- Those who simply need less sleep and get up when their parents deem it too early!
To find out which your toddler is, take a look at their behaviour during the day:-
- Are they particularly sleep?
- Are they grumpy?
- Do they need a mid morning nap only a few hours after having woken up in the morning?
If your toddler is waking becaue there's something specific that might be causing them to wake, then try to remedy the situation:-
- If light steams through the window then put up blackout blinds or blackout curtains
- If something like opening the garage door is making them wake up, park the car on the road
- If their nappy is leaking or really wet, get more absorbant nappies or change them as late as you can in the evening before going to bed
If they are waking and are not able to go back to sleep, then try to establish a way for them to get back to sleep without you needing to be there. Give them a special toy or teddy, give them a muslin or favourite cushion or something that is comforting.
If your toddler is up and raring to go at 6am and has been in bed since 7.30 the night before, you must remember that they only need so much sleep and cannot be forced to sleep once they have had their quota: around eleven hours of sleep.
You could try putting them down a little later at night, although surprisingly putting them down earlier will, for some children, make them sleep in later in the mornings. This is because if they are going to bed too late, and are sleep deprived, it will result in a less restful sleep.
Good luck! Sweet dreams!
The number of babies being put to sleep on their backs - a sleep position considered the safest - has reached a plateau since 2001. The Back To Sleep campaign launched in 1994 encouraged parents to place babies to sleep on their backs - rather than lying on their front. It was discovered that this position resulted in less incidences of Infant Death Syndrome (commonly known as "cot death").
Cot Death is the sudden, unexpected death of a baby. Even after a post mortem, the death remains unexplained. It is referred to as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Do we know the causes? Not really. A single cause has not been named. There could be various, even numerous factors that lead to the death, occurring when the babies are most vulnerable.
Are all babies at risk? It seems so. There is no evidence it happens to a certain race, or culture, or type of person. It usually occurs when the baby is under 6 months and it can happen at any time - not just when the baby is in a cot.
Are baby boys or girls more prone? It seems boys are slightly more at risk, as are premature babies and those of a low birth weight.
How can we reduce the risk?
- Put babies to sleep on their backs
- Do not smoke during pregnancy: you or your partner
- Don't allow anyone to smoke in the same room as your baby
- Consult your doctor if your baby shows any signs of illness
- Buy a new mattress for each baby, don't use second-hand mattresses
- Use a firm mattress but don't use a pillow
- Avoid cot bumpers - there is growing evidence that these interrupt the flow of oxygen and may be a contributory factor
- Lie your baby 'feet to foot' with their feet at the foot of the cot
- Breastfeed your baby as long as possible rather than using formula
- Keep your baby cool - don't allow overheating
- Place their feet at the foot of the cot so they can't wriggle under the covers and don't cover their heads
- Don't fall asleep with your baby in a chair and never sleep your baby in your bed
- Keep your baby's cot in your own room for the first six months
- Follow these guidelines for daytime naps too