I’m a mom of two beautiful daughters who share a room together and sleep all night. I spend every evening after the girls go to bed with my husband (and business partner), Chad, and enjoy going on monthly date nights! I start every morning just the way I like it: quiet time, coffee, and calm. Before I began this consulting journey that has helped thousands of families resolve exhausting sleep habits, I was a fifth grade science teacher! Now I teach YOU how to make sleep a thing!
I don’t often get into homeopathic remedies, or essential oils, or things like this. Yes, I love me a good-smelling oil! However, I don’t 100% understand and know all the benefits of oils. But I want to shed some light on ways that we can naturally help your little one sleep better. Now, these are not 100% guaranteed, but they may be a helpful aid in your child’s sleep.
Sun Exposure & Exercise
You may have heard me talk about this, especially in our podcast, how sun exposure is really important for a good night of sleep. There are two times of day that we can get your little one outside if they are struggling with early morning wakings or with falling asleep at bedtime:
Morning: Take your little one outside in the morning. They don’t have to get out of the crib and immediately go outside, but let’s get up, let’s have some breakfast, let’s go outside. Or maybe we have a picnic breakfast outside. Getting your child (and yourself) sun exposure first thing in the morning is really helpful. It helps to rev up your circadian rhythm.
Evening: It’s also really nice to get outside as the sun is a setting lower in the sky. This triggers our body to produce melatonin. Now, unless your child has autism (which actually has now been proven that children with autism do have lower levels of melatonin), or a medical condition, it’s more rare that your child has deficient levels of melatonin. We all produce melatonin. It kicks in at the end of the day when the sun goes low in the sky. What we want to be able to do is get your little one outside. Next, maybe you come in for dinner or you come in for bedtime routine, let’s now block off the sun. Especially in the summertime when the sun is up until 9:00 p.m. This is nice to be able to come in, close the curtains, close the blinds, shield the sun, now let’s get ready for bed! You might even want to consider dimming the lights during bedtime routine, which can also help cue your child for sleep.
Closer to 12 to 13 months old, you could try 100% cherry juice. Cherries are one of the few foods that have natural traces of melatonin. You can offer your child 100% cherry juice and mix it with a little bit of apple juice to disguise some of the tartness.
I do not recommend melatonin gummies or melatonin supplements because we don’t actually know what happens with synthetic melatonin. We don’t know long term effects and this is why I’m really, really cautious on using these supplements. Try going outside in the evening and/or cherry juice first!
In fact, recent studies share that non-pharmacological measures are preferred to help adolescents sleep well- including, proper sleep hygiene!! This brings music to my ears as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works to change the HABITS behind sleep.
Your child also needs adequate levels of magnesium. Low levels of magnesium have been traced to restless leg syndrome. So our bodies need magnesium and melatonin to help us sleep well. How can we get your child magnesium?
A holistic nutritionist recently wrote a guest blog for us on How Magnesium Impacts Sleep, which also includes a muffin recipe that is packed with natural sources of magnesium! Check it out here!
The other thing that we can do is offer an Epsom salt bath at bedtime. Epsom salt has naturally occurring magnesium. Our skin, our largest organ in the body, is going to absorb the magnesium in the bath. Baths are also nice because it helps your body relax. And if we’re going to offer magnesium through the Epsom salts, why not choose lavender Epsom salts?!
Children are not robots. They will go through phases of falling asleep quickly or taking almost an hour to fall asleep, and of course these mimic how we as adults fall asleep at varied times each night. While you can expect your child to grow and change, if you notice that it’s been over 2 weeks with a consistent 20…30…40…60 minutes to fall asleep, try these natural remedies to help them drift off to sleep a bit faster:
Go outside and play!! After breakfast and before bedtime are great ways to soak up the sun and cue up your body’s natural melatonin and cortisol levels that regulate your body’s internal rhythm.