Summer is a great time for kids – playing outside, no coats, swimming! But summer challenges ranging from high temperatures to daylight savings time can also pose problems for sleep. Here are a few tips to help keep your kids sleeping well during the summer months:
Keep it Cool. Babies’ bodies do not regulate temperature as well as adults do. They can become overheated more easily than older kids and adults can. Plus, very young children cannot remove their own blankets or clothing if they feel too warm. So it’s up to us to help keep them comfortable. In the summer, if you have air conditioning, use it to keep the room where baby sleeps nice and cool – between 68-72°F. Fans also work well, as long as they aren’t blowing right on the baby. You may want to keep the shades in the room drawn during especially hot days to help keep it cool.
Strip Down. Think minimalist when dressing baby for sleep during the summer. You don’t need to put the baby in long pajamas. Try a tee shirt or short sleeve onesie, or even just a diaper if it’s really hot. Switch to a lightweight cotton swaddle blanket so you can continue to swaddle even in the heat. If you use a sleep sack, try one made of cotton jersey instead of cozy fleece. As always, no bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. in the crib. Not only are they unsafe, they can be stifling when it’s warm.
Make it Dark. One of the greatest challenges in the summer is getting the kids to bed when it’s still light out. Use room darkening or blackout shades. My kids have blackout shades in their room but lately they have been complaining about the light coming in the sides at bedtime so I’m buying these to try and block it out. Get creative and do what it takes to make the room cave-like no matter what time of day. Helps with nap time, too!
Stick to Your Schedule. Summer, and especially vacations, can throw everyone off schedule. Try to establish some structure to your days and create a summertime routine that lines up as closely as possible with your regular schedule. Keep wake time, bedtime, and nap times the same. That will help keep your family’s circadian rhythms on track. If we let our kids’ bedtime slip more than an hour, we risk getting out of sync with our natural biorhythms and can create a sleep problem that feels like jet lag. Staying up late once in a while is OK, it IS summer after all. But don’t let it become a habit.
Don’t skip naps. It can be especially hard to tear kids away from fun in the sun. But it’s still important that kids of napping age continue to nap consistently even in the summer. Your kids may be getting even more physical activity during these months so their bodies need time to repair and naptime is when some of that critical restoration happens. Most children need a nap to get the optimal total hours of sleep each day. Even if they fight it, insist on quiet alone time in the middle of the day. It has the added benefit of getting them out of the sun during peak burning hours.
Be Sun and Heat Safe. Just a reminder to keep your kids covered with sunblock and well hydrated during the summer. If your kids become dehydrated, they may not sleep as well. And we all know how uncomfortable a sunburn can be. Any time our kids are uncomfortable, they may not sleep as well as we’d like. These problems are easy to avoid by watching their sun exposure and making sure they stay hydrated (with milk for babies and water for older kids).
Continue to make sleep a priority for your family so everyone can enjoy a wonderful summer!
4 Responses to “Summer Sleep Tips”
We live in Greece where it is absolutely impossible for a baby or toddler to be out of doors between 11am and 6 or 7 pm between mid-June and mid-September without risking heatstroke and dehydration. Therefore the best time for outings to the beach and playground is late in the evening – and needless to say, bedtimes are also late as a consequence. Any advice?
I understand! Does baby sleep later in the morning? Are you able to get the baby outside earlier in the day? If the baby’s natural rhythms are lining up with the local rhythm of the day, you may be OK. But if baby is waking up early and staying up late, baby may develop a sleep deficit that’s difficult to unwind. Just be mindful of the total amount of sleep your baby is getting each day. If baby seems tired and fussy during the day, chances are he’s overtired. If your baby is taking two or more long naps during the day and seems happy and well-rested, then you may not have a problem with the later bedtime. It really depends on the age of the child and several other factors! Check our blog post about suggested amount of sleep needed for children at each age (http://sleepsisters.com/bedtimes-by-age/).
My daughter is 6 months old and we keep the AC in my husbands office window, the rooms are connected…. We keep the AC on at between 70-74 an sometimes in the am her arms and feet are freezing… Any recommendations?
Are her feet and arms covered in socks and sleeves and still getting cold? Is she warm when she goes to bed, but cold when she wakes? You may want to try a sleep sack if you aren’t already using one. They are sometimes called “wearable blankets.” You could turn off (or raise the temp) the AC when you go to bed so she isn’t so cold in the am. When you wake up, you can reset the temp to cool back down. If she isn’t too warm at bedtime and you aren’t doing this already, put her in lightweight, cotton, footy PJs or a long sleeve onesie and some socks. It can be tricky finding the right balance to keep her comfy – try a few things to see what works best for her. Hope that helps!