napping children keiki

As a mother of a very active 2 year old, I am the first to say that getting a good night’s sleep can make or break a day. If my son has a rough night of sleep we all suffer the next day. And let’s face it, as parents we look forward to those couple hours a night when the little one is tucked in and we can have adult conversations and enjoy each other’s company. Writing this is a good reminder that there are simple and very beneficial things we can do to improve everyone’s sleep (not just the little ones).

The first thing is to have a “going to bed ritual” that happens at the same time every night. For some it may be taking a bath, reading a few books or singing goodnight songs. There is a term “sleep hygiene” which really just means that you eliminate all stimulation prior to going to bed. This is probably the hardest for most families to follow, as so many houses become filled with TV’s, cell phones and other electronics. Try shutting off the TV and computer 2 hours prior to going to bed. Eliminate all electronics from the bedroom unless an alarm is necessary. Make sure the room is dark; this may require purchasing dark curtains. Even very low lighting from outside can interfere with our natural circadian rhythm and effect our sleep-wake cycle. If possible adjust the temperature of the room to be slightly cool.

The next thing to try if the above isn’t working is known as the “warming sock treatment”. Take a pair of cotton socks and put them in cold water and wring them out. Slip the socks on, and then put another heavy pair of socks over the top (wool is best, but may be hard to find on Maui) Although the idea of cold socks sounds terrible, it is actually quite relaxing and grounds the child, settling them in for the evening and can be very effective. The reality though is that toddlers may be opposed to many things including wet socks, if that is the case then trying some safe herbs may be your solution.

When considering giving herbs to children it is important to know if the herb is in fact safe for them, if the dosing is safe and to make sure that if you choose a tincture it is not made with alcohol. Choose a glycerine tincture over alcohol for children. Herbs that are relaxing, and considered safe for most children include chamomile, hawthorne berry, linden, milky oatseed, passionflower, and skullcap. It is advisable to use herbs with guidance from a professional or to use a pre-made product that is specifically made for children.

Good luck and may your family have a restful night!

Image Credit: Infinity Photography Hawaii

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Dr. Marsha Lowery is a Naturopathic Physician with a practice in Grace Health Center in Makawao. Her practice focuses on Naturopathic primary-care with an emphasis in womenês health and pediatrics. She completed her ND degree at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. You call her at 808 633-8177 or go to