- Publish Date
- Friday, 11 September 2015, 4:33PM
For many parents, getting their children to fall sleep - and stay asleep until morning - is a constant battle.
But current trends in sleep training advice, which often involve ignoring your little ones as they cry in their beds, can seem equally unappealing.
However top sleep nanny Lucy Shrimpton told FEMAIL that creating good little sleepers need not involve heartache for parents.
Lucy, a mother of two herself, said: ‘Parents are often put off trying to get their children into good sleeping habits because they fear it means they have to leave their child to cry - but there are more gentle ways to handle it.'
'I can't promise there will be no tears in the process, but if a child does cry I believe parents should comfort and reassure rather than ignore.'
But certified sleep consultant Lucy believes there are many ways we can send children off to dreamland on a happy note, and limit those bedtime tears to begin with...
Spritz the room with 'good dreams spray'
'Spraying your child’s room with ‘good dreams’ will make them feel comforted and even excited about going to sleep,' said Lucy.
'It is a great way to deter the idea of monsters or "scaries" but without any mention of those negative thoughts.'
So how to make your very own ‘good dreams spray'? It's all about the imagination. An empty spray bottle with a little bit of water inside will do the trick.
'Or you can get more creative and make a label for the bottle or add a little food colouring to the water for a more magical effect,' Lucy suggested.
And if your little one wakes at night. If it's age appropriate, leave a spary by thier bedside, Lucy advises.
Try the sandwich tuck-in
For children who like to get out of bed or find it hard to lay still and calm, focusing on the tucking-in process can help settle them for the night.
According to Lucy, the sandwich tuck-in can work wonders. 'Tell your child that you are making a pretend sandwich and she is one of the fillings,' she advised.
'Then use gentle chopping, smoothing and sprinkling actions with your hands up and down her body in a massage to add more fillings to the sandwich.'
Continue until your child is suitably focused and laying still before putting the covers on - or the 'bread on top' as Lucy calls it.
'It is a bit of a game but executed in calm way, can really get a young child to focus on staying in bed,' she added.
Give off a sleepy vibe
'When you settle your child into bed use subliminal messages to help them nod off. If you are reading a story use a soothing voice and speak slowly almost as though you are hypnotising your child,' said Lucy.
She also advises repeating some lines or phrases and yawning.
'When your child sees you yawn, this will make them yawn too - and set off some sleepy triggers,' she advised.
Instill sleep manners
Rewarding with stickers and charts during the day is one thing, but Lucy advises teaching and rewarding specific sleep manners in the night too.
'Laying in bed quietly at bedtime or not waking mummy or daddy in the night can be taught as manners - just as saying "please" and "thank you" during the day,' she suggested.
'I recommend four sleep manners to review every morning with a sticker for achieving each one. If all the stickers are won that morning or for the whole week, a little prize is earned.
'This requires lots of positive language and praise but allow your child to feel disappointment when he doesn’t get all the stickers as this will drive him on to try again the next night.
Don't let them get too tired
It might seem instinctive to keep your children awake longer so they drop off more easily when it's time for bed, but Lucy says the opposite is in fact true.
'Getting your child to bed too late is likely to cause them to have much harder time setting to sleep,' she said.
'When we miss our optimal sleep window our brains release the hormone Cortisol to wake us up and we get what is known as a second wind.'
'Most babies and children up to age six do well with a bedtime somewhere between 6-8pm,' she added.
For more information visit www.sleepnanny.co.uk.