Did you know you can use play to help your little ones sleep!? It's honestly the easiest way to help your little one work through sleep difficulties. It can even stop those dreaded sleep regressions...
We often underestimate play and it's benefits on our children! Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of babies and children. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.
"Play is the first and primary solution to the problem of emotion" Gordon Neufeld.
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practising adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. children practise decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue. Ideally, much of play involves adults, but when play is controlled by adults, children accept adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills. In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic. Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.
When parents observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs.
So how can we use play to aid sleep regressions.?
As we’ve already discussed sleep regressions are due to social, emotional or physical advancement. It’s normally because our little ones can’t quite achieve those advancements in the day and become frustrated or overtired thinking and obsessing over this new task or goal. If we can pinpoint the area our little ones are trying to excel in we can help them achieve this milestone by creating play opportunities that help them get there quicker.
“Play is the highest form of research” Einstein
For example; if your little one is around 6 months and possibly regressing this could be because they’re trying to master the skill of rolling. If you can see they are getting frustrated by not mastering their rolls then you can aid this by encouraging the turn. Showing them and achieving with them.
If your little one is around 12 months and they have started nursery they may be experiencing separation anxiety and this may be causing them a sleep regression. You know you can even help separation anxiety with play! You can role play leaving and returning and showing your little one that you always come back. You can also incorporate some dedicated bonding playtime pre-bed. You can do this through relaxing play, massage, stories but try to dedicate at least 15 minutes in your bedtime routine to this! Time spent is invaluable!