Sleep habits to improve children’s health

Parents worry about their children’s nutrition. It is one of the most important issues when thinking about the care of a child, but what about sleep? Do they worry about how the child sleeps, screen time, insomnia, and tiredness? Not everyone focuses on sleep as a key factor for a child’s growth and well-being. That is why in Wellbeingstyle we did the webinar: The Importance of sleep habits for children’s health, in which Daniela Vega and Francisco Cornejo, creators of the Storybook app, which helps babies and children up to 12 years old to fall asleep, improve discomfort and connect with them through massages, stories, and music.

Sleep habits to improve children's health

The world is changing thanks to technology. Today there are different apps to improve the quality of sleep of babies and children. It is important to avoid giving them a cell phone or tablet to distract them, since access to screens will affect their sleep quality. That is why there are recommendations that indicate that if a child is 3 years old or younger, he/she should not have access to screens. When the child is over 3 years old, access to screens should be minimal, and there are even specialists who indicate that access to screens should be given after the age of 8 years or older.

Sleep is key for physical health since it works the immune system by more than 70%.

How long should a baby or child sleep according to his or her age?

This answer depends on several factors, such as size and weight, but it is important to respect some standards. For example, a newborn should sleep between 14 and 17 hours and will do so in fragments. That is why parents who manage to implement good sleep habits into this new little person who came into the world, will be able to have a better emotional connection and get more rest at night.

Babies between 4 and 11 months should sleep between 12 and 15 hours. It is a stage in which they are more awake and willing to interact more with their surroundings, so implementing good sleep habits, with massages and stories at night, will allow them to

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It is important to understand, in this process, that infant massage, besides making the child feel safer, will help him/her in different ways that benefit his/her health. It is very important that parents ask their children’s permission for the message. If it is a baby, for example, the hand is placed on it and if it feels uncomfortable, it is better not to continue: the baby or the child must give their approval for the massage to be done, so that they begin to decide about their body.

Benefits of infant massage

  • It facilitates the baby’s peaceful and restful sleep.
  • It involves the whole family, promoting respect and
  • It promotes a relaxed environment, which reduces conflicts.
  • It helps to release tension at home.
  • Facilitates the baby’s expression of feelings
  • It improves sleep quality.
  • With better sleep, there is better growth and health for the child.

These benefits are not only for the child, as the parents will also enjoy: better understanding of everything that is happening with the baby/child; promoting early involvement of the parent; promoting secure attachment and a moment of relaxation and connection for both parents and child.

Sleep habits to improve children's health

Questions during the webinar

1. How do I get my 6 year old to sleep separately?

It is important to understand why she is not doing it; what habits have been worked on at home and the process that has been carried out so that the child goes to sleep in her room. A good start is to implement a sleep routine in her own bed with a story, music, and massages so that she feels comfortable and gets used to sleeping alone, but feeling safe. 

 2. Should there be a balance between feeding and sleep routines, and are there foods that affect or favor a child’s sleep?

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Good nutrition is key at any age, and even more so in childhood. It is important to follow the nutrition advice given by the pediatrician to provide healthy meals and snacks according to the weight and size of the baby or child. In this context, eating heavy foods at night could affect sleep, and this applies to both children and adults. 

3. My daughter never takes naps without a problem. However, two months ago, she started having trouble sleeping if she naps, and the amount of sleep she gets has decreased. What can you do?

It is important to understand that children grow and their habits change. Maybe a nap was fine before, but now his body is less willing to nap without affecting his sleep hours. Children evolve and with them their organisms and habits, so giving up that nap may be a good idea. You can also try-as well as the nap-to do massages at night to see if the child conciliates sleep with this therapy. 

4. Where can I find massage tutorials for children on the autism spectrum?

There is a lot of information out there. On Storybook App’s Instagram account there are tips for massages and in their app you will find the massage technique. 

5. For a 9-month-old baby who wakes up crying three or four times in the morning, is there a method to stop this from happening?

The baby needs to sleep better and enter the deepest stages of sleep. It is important to build with him a routine of massages and stories to improve his quality of sleep and get him to sleep through the night. You can use an app, a story, music, or whatever you feel most comfortable with. 

6. Does massage help children on the autism spectrum?

Massage and building sleep habits with a routine that brings the child and parents closer together and becomes their happy hour of sharing is key for the autistic child, who is characterized by some degree of difficulty with social interaction and communication.

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7. My nephew is 7 months old and was premature. There were complications at birth and he did not establish skin-to-skin contact. His sleep is irregular, between 2 to 3 hours throughout the day, even at night. What can be done to at least extend the hours of sleep at night?

Creating a sleep routine with massages and stories in which the baby feels a safe environment of total connection with his parents will be a good way to start trying to see what alternatives there are to improving sleep. After this routine, you can identify foods, position, and other variables to see what can be improved and try to make him sleep better at night. 

8. How many hours should a four-year-old child watch television?

The truth is that a child under five should not have access to screens, but it is not always possible. For a 4 year old, maybe an hour a day of TV would be viable, and encourage a sleep routine in which the parents have access to the screen and the child enjoys a good routine. 

 9. I have a four year old. My husband recently passed away. My son is a light sleeper, what should I do?

It is a very hard time for both of us and for thousands of families. A child absorbs all that pain, and maybe his light sleep is due to that feeling that he is unable to process. It is important to talk to a psychologist to understand what state the child is in and what he/she needs to improve this process and mourning. On the other hand, starting a routine of massages and stories where the child feels that time is dedicated only to him can become a kind of therapy to improve his mood, and thus improve his quality of sleep and emotional connection with his other relatives.