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5 ways to plan the perfect room in your nursery for children to sleep

Getting a small child to nod off is one thing, but when you have a whole room of them… Sarah Ockwell-Smith is here to help!

Sarah Ockwell-Smith
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

1 | Let them lead

A great way to encourage the calm onset of sleep is to afford children the independence to take themselves for a nap when they are tired and get up when they are refreshed.

Unfortunately, the use of cots inhibits this and can override developing independence. Using a floormat, or if funds stretch, a specially designed floor-bed like the Dream Coracle, fosters autonomy.

2 | Keep them close

Some children, especially those new to daycare, can struggle with lack of attachment at naptime. This can make for fraught, time-intensive and often unsuccessful attempts to settle them.

More and more settings are taking training in ‘babywearing’ – carrying babies and toddlers in slings and carriers. All report the hugely positive effects it has upon staff and children.

3 | Mini routines

The best way to improve bedtime is to have a consistent routine, and I’m a great advocate of naptime routines too. They tell children what’s about to happen and create predictable security.

They don’t have to be complicated: a special naptime story (the same one repeated each day), followed by a song and fetching comfort toys/blankets can help children relax and drift off.

4 | Let in the light

Many settings are tempted to close curtains, often with black-out lining, for naps, but this ‘artificial dark’ can interrupt a child’s body clock, and disrupted night-time sleep can make behaviour worse in the day.

Research shows that for the best night’s sleep, children need as much daylight exposure as possible. So, keep the curtains fully open, or at least only partially closed.

5 | Sounds and scents

The only oil that has been shown time and again to improve sleep is lavender – try diffusing it in a mains-operated electric fan diffuser.

Music can also be a great help, but not traditional lullabies. Look for ‘alpha music’: simple, repetitive tunes with no vocals, recorded to 60 beats per minute. Play it for the whole duration of naptime, not just the initial settling to sleep.

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