How to Get Kids to Sleep in the Warm Summer Months
We’re past the longest day, but really summer is just beginning. Light evenings and muggy British summer nights can make the best laid bedtime plans go out of the window for young children. The result: summer bedtimes can be fraught with stress and worry. Here are our top tips on how to get young kids to sleep in the summer.
Keep Things Cool
From birth, we’re used to keeping our young children’s sleeping area cool at night. The advice is to keep the room between 16 -20°C. Even on the most un-summer-like of British summer days, that’s a tall order. However, babies and young children have a harder time regulating their body temperature, so keeping things cool for them is essential - here are some tips:
- Try to keep their sleeping area as cool as possible, by closing curtains during the day.
- A fan is a great idea. Use it on a low setting to circulate the air but don’t aim it directly at the cot or bed. If things are still roasting in their bedroom then take a wet towel, or a bowl of ice, and place it under the airflow to cool the air. (Remember not to leave little ones unattended with a bowl of melting ice though!).
- It sounds obvious but keep bedding and nightwear to a minimum. It's fine for babies to sleep in just a vest or nappy (although a thin layer of clothing can help to regulate body temperature better than just a nappy/totally bare skin). For bedding - stick to all natural fabrics. 100% cotton is best.
- A cool flannel on the forehead (or feet - cool feet help to keep the rest of the body cooler!). Leave it in a dish by the bed so kids can cool themselves down if they wake up hot in the night.
Here are some real-life tips from the Sitters' team:
'I pop their pillowcases in the fridge before bed (or the freezer for an urgent chill!). You can do the same with favourite toys too.'
'Hair up (pineapple style) to avoid sweaty necks!'
'If it's too hot upstairs we have a sleepover in the lounge - so much cooler!'
'During the summer months mine take a frozen hot water bottle to bed (with furry cover so it's not too cold!)'
'We've camped in the garden a few nights - the kids have loved it'
A final word on keeping cool: don’t let them burn or get too hot during the day. The shade, light cotton coverings, and not being a Mad Dog or Englishman when it comes to middle of the day exposure, are important. If you think it’s hard getting a hot and sweaty child to sleep, you don’t want to try doing it with sunburn or heat stroke in the mix.
Keep Them Hydrated
Especially with newly potty-trained young children, it may be tempting to hold back on drinks in the evening. However, on warm nights, kids need to be hydrated or you’ll be treated to a 1000 interruptions of ‘I’m thirsty’. Encourage a good drink in the late afternoon, perhaps an ice lolly after dinner, and then make sure your child has a sippy cup or water bottle available for the night.
Keep It Dark
This is where many parents come a cropper during summer bedtimes. How do you encourage a young child to sleep when the world is still awake and shouting about it in all its sunshiney glory? This is further exacerbated as night time is the best time to open the windows and get some cooler air in.
You can start to cool the bedroom around an hour before you’re taking your little one to bed. Then, when you’re all off up the apples and pears to Bedfordshire, you can close the window, and pop up a blackout blind (The Gro Company do a great one). Once your child is off to sleep, you can then sneak in, open the blind a little, and open the window once more.
Keep the Routine
Routines, (naturally enforced by older sibling’s schedules and society at large), fly out of the window during the summer months. Days become more mish-mashed, with activities varying from one moment to another. Playing in the paddling pool at bedtime no longer seems such a crazy idea. However, babies and young children’s sleep thrives on routine.
Therefore, try to keep some semblance of routine throughout the summer. Maybe push the bedtime later, but keep the routine the same, and if your little one still naps, then don’t skip them. Also, stuff your summer days with physical activity and lots of fun and hopefully you’ll have a weary head ready to hit the sack.
Let Them Rest
Summer is a time for fun, laughter, days out, and memories. It’s a time when childhoods are created with sticky ice cream, and battles with the sunscreen. With the tips above you’ll be able to ensure your young kids are rested, energised, and raring to go on another day’s adventure.
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