Moving house involves change. Change can disrupt sleep.
I think sleep is probably one of the most talked about topics in parenting circles in the Early Years, isn’t it?! If you throw moving home into the mix of the not-enough-sleep phase of family life, you may wonder how you will ever survive!
Fear not, I’ve teamed up with sleep expert Rhian from Rested Mama to give you some top tips to help your child settle to sleep in your new home.
Top Tips for Children's Sleep and Moving Home
1. Don’t wash the bedding when you move! If you can, transfer your child’s bedding from your old home to your new home without washing it so that they have a familiar smell when they first go to bed. With a new sleeping environment, having the same bedding for a few days is a simple thing you can do to make the transition easier.
2. You can decorate the new bedroom in similar colours and style to the old bedroom so that it is familiar. When your child is experiencing other changes, having their bedroom similar can help. The opposite to that, which works for some children, is to have new décor and furniture in the new bedroom so that it is exciting and fun. For example, you may buy new bunkbeds or a cabin bed if you child if old enough, or have glow-in-dark stars on the ceiling. The key to having a new sleeping environment in a new house is to introduce it to your child well before bedtime, if at all possible.
3. Keep a familiar bedtime routine in the new home. If you usually have bath-time, stories, snack, teeth, lights low etc. then try to keep in the same order of things so that your child knows what to expect. Lavender oil can be very relaxing so you could use a child-safe room diffuser, spray or bath product with lavender in. Rhian suggests introducing this smell at bedtime a couple of weeks ahead of moving, so that again it’s something constant and familiar for your child. Do be careful with essential oils though and keep them out of children’s reach.
4. Moving may trigger sleep issues that your child has not experienced before, such as confusional arousals, sleep talking, sleep walking, nightmares or even night terrors. Some research suggests that changes in a child’s home environment may be processed while they are sleeping. If you know that these sleep changes are possible, hopefully it will make it less worrying for you if it does happen. Confusional arousals, nightmares and night terrors can be incredibly hard to see your child go through and it can be hard to believe they are asleep. Children often have no memories of them in the morning and there is not much you can do to help except to make sure they are safe and console them if they do not react against this. These sleep issues are usually just a phase but if you are concerned do seek professional help.
5. Sometimes children are concerned by unfamiliar noises in their new home – floorboards creaking, pipes popping, noises from outside. You could use a white noise machine or app if your child is young, or consider calming music or audio bedtime stories. Rhian from Rested Mama says: ‘Pink noise can be a game changer for children over 6 months of age, and has been shown to induce a deep sleep.’ You can see an article about pink noise and white noise at Pink Noise: What It Is, Sleep Research. It would be helpful to incorporate this into your child’s bedtime routine before moving home, if possible.
One Small Sleep at a Time
I hope these sleep-inducing tips help you and your children when you move home. Rhian from Rested Mama says:
‘I’m a huge fan of making small changes one step at a time when it comes to children’s sleep. Moving home is such a big change, it’s important to keep as much else as familiar as possible. Now is not the right time to be making changes to how your child falls asleep. Keep the routine the same, and if you want to make any changes, for example stopping sitting next to their bed whilst they fall asleep, hold off until they’ve settled into their new environment.’
If you need some advice about any aspect of your child’s sleep, you can join Rhian’s free Facebook Group More Sleep Please
You can share your experiences and ask for advice about any aspect of How to Move Home with Kids in my free Facebook Group.
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Naomi Tyrrell PhD
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