Guest blog written by Susan Wallace, founder of Settled Petals, an expert in infant sleep, potty training, baby yoga & baby massage.
World Sleep Day is taking place on Friday 18th March 2022. Let us take this opportunity to explore some natural ways to promote sleep within the bedtime routine.
Bath: Children do not usually require a bath every night. However, on the nights which baths do occur, it can be advantageous to place it at the start of the child’s normal sleep routine. A bath can naturally cause a slight raise in one’s body temperature. Following the bath, the body temperature begins to drop, promoting relaxation. Research suggests that bathing 1 – 2 hours before bed, can both decrease the time is takes to fall asleep, as well as promote better quality sleep.
In order to protect baby’s delicate skin, it is important only to use products which contain natural ingredients and no nasty chemicals. We love Artio Skincares Natural Baby Soap which can be used even on sensitive skin.
Baby Massage: Baby Massage can be an excellent addition to the night routine. Research has found that infants who were massaged for 15 minutes per day for one month, fell asleep faster. In addition it was found that when baby massage was introduced perceived ‘sleep problems’ dropped from 100% (of the research group) to just 33% as described by parents. Another study found that when Newborns availed of a massage prior to sleep, their sleep became more organised with more prolonged periods of sleep.
Baby Massage has been shown to support pain, teething, colic, wind, constipation and offer support for symptoms of the common cold. All of which can inhibit sleep, so natural support is usually welcomed by parents. A research study found that the addition of oil to the massage decreased motor activity and stress, as lower levels of cortisol were found in the infants saliva. Massage oil can be used from 1 month of age, provided a patch test has been taken. Again, natural products, free from artificial chemicals are preferable for delicate skin. Artio Skincares Baby Nourishing Oil is ideal. Settled Petals provide an online baby massage programme, which includes a massage routine specifically designed to aid sleep, by including sleep inducing reflexology and acupressure points.
Light: Light and darkness play a critical role in a child’s sleep / wake rhythm. Exposure to light can promote wakefulness and exposure to darkness promote relaxation and sleepiness. I recommend promoting time outside during the daytime, particularly in the morning. This is because exposure to natural light can promote the production of a hormone called Serotonin, which is the precursor to the sleep inducing hormone Melatonin. So in other words, time outside during the day can promote sleep.
Melatonin is light sensitive, in that exposure to such can inhibit its production, making it more difficult to sleep. Therefore I recommend keeping the sleep environment completely dark (with the exception of Newborn naps which should take place in the light, but with a dark night-sleep environment). Blackout blinds are therefore advantageous. As the days are getting longer and brighter they can also be beneficial at preventing light entering the child’s bedroom early in the mornings which can promote early rising. As blackout blinds are placed on windows they are in contact with direct sunlight. Therefore it can be beneficial to ensure that your blinds are made from organic materials so that they so not leach hazardous chemicals into your baby’s sleep environment. Pure Earth Collections Blackout Blinds are made from 100% organic cotton and are free from toxic materials and dyes. They are also portable allowing you to provide a dark environment away from home.
A consistent routine containing a bath and massage can therefore be sleep promoting for infants. A dark sleep environment can promote sleep further.
To celebrate World Sleep Day Pure Earth Collection, Settled Petals and Artio Skincare have come together to offer you the following Sleep Inducing Prize:-