Face it, toddlers and preschoolers sometimes have trouble sleeping. If they would only stay in their rooms it would be one thing, but little ones often wander out into the living room looking for Mommy or Daddy. Don’t despair — you can actually help enhance your child’s sleep by utilizing a few effective sensory activities to help soothe and relax her mind and body.
Sensory Activities Using Sight
Do you find yourself leaving a bathroom or hall light on to help your child sleep? Unfortunately, this could be keeping your child awake and may cause her to want to leave her room. Instead of leaving on a hall light, invest in an interactive nightlight or a rotating nighttime lamp that uses an extremely low, soft light. An interactive nightlight displays pictures that slide by with soothing, pastel light. A rotating nighttime lamp has a rotating screen that moves around a lamp, displaying moving pictures across the walls and ceiling.
Sensory Activities Using Smell
Certain smells can make your little one feel hungry, excited and even sleepy. You can make your child’s room smell calming and relaxing by using certain essential oils, like lavender, chamomile and grapefruit essential oils. Spritz one of these oils, or a combination of two or three of them, around the room using an essential oil atomizer right before your child goes to bed. You can also spritz a small amount of lavender essential oil on to the underside of his pillow to help enhance his sleep.
Sensory Activities Using Touch
Do you remember when you used to give your baby a massage after her bath? Baby massage helps infants feel more relaxed and sleepy, and it can do the same for your toddlers and preschoolers. Before your little one gets ready to sleep, give her a back, hand and foot massage to relax her muscles, calm her mind and make her feel more sleepy. Use a natural lotion or baby oil that is infused with lavender or calendula essential oil.
Sensory Activities Using Taste
You probably remember hearing about your great grandmother making your grandmother warm milk before bed to help her sleep. Well, it really works! According to Washington State University, warm milk contains L-tryptophan, which can actually make your toddler or preschooler sleepy. Warm milk may also possibly soothe your little one because it makes him remember how comforting it was to nurse. Heat whole milk in a pot or in the microwave just enough so that it is warm but not hot. Stir the milk and taste it to make sure it is the right temperature. Serve your child warm milk before bed as a nighttime routine.
Sensory Activities Using Sound
Certain music makes you feel relaxed and soothed, and many companies even produce children’s music that is specifically designed to make kids feel sleepy. Consider putting a CD player on which you can play a soothing music CD, such as a collection of classical lullaby songs, in your child’s bedroom. Keep the volume low, because if the volume is too loud it could actually keep your little one awake. After a while, if you play the same music every time your child goes to bed, she will even start to get tired when she starts to hear it playing.