Sensory Smart Sleep Tips
18 Jan 2018
For babies who have trouble sleeping, sensory techniques designed to calm and organise the body can be helpful. In fact, many of the same techniques and methods we use to calm a newborn or infant can be adapted for use with older kids to help them fall asleep more easily and hopefully stay asleep through the night.
One of the first things new parents learn at the hospital is how to swaddle their little bundle of joy because snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket provides calming tactile and proprioceptive input all over the body, making the child feel secure and safe.
Show us a new mother and we’ll show you someone who has mastered the art of doing just about anything using only one hand, because babies LOVE to be held. Why? Being in someone’s arms provides tons of positive sensory benefits, including the relaxing effect of body heat. Making sure the room is the right temperature to ensure the best possible sleep for your baby.
Parents and caregivers of babies can often be heard making that familiar “shushing” noise or quietly humming to quiet and calm their little ones. These repetitive, quiet sounds mimic the calming, reassuring noises the baby heard when they were inside their mother – the sound of her heartbeat, and the sound of her muffled voice. White noise can be calming for many children (and even adults) as they’re trying to fall asleep and it also blocks out other sounds that might startle or wake them. White noise machines can be used or simply having a regular fan in the child's room will make all the difference.
Rocking chairs and baby swings are most parents’ most prized pieces of “baby equipment” because repetitive, rhythmic rocking, swaying, and swinging provide calming vestibular input to the nervous system, helping children relax. Look to read books in a rocking chair as part of the bed time routine.
Nearly every baby crib toy on the market has an underwater theme. Many of them come with the option to play “ocean sounds” which links back to the white noise benefit we mentioned above but these toys also come with the perk of soothing, repetitive visual stimulation.
Watching flowing water, fish gliding through an aquarium, or even a crackling campfire often has a “mesmerizing effect” on kids and adults alike. Focusing on soothing visual input can help many children relax and fall asleep.