Sleep se­crets doc­tors swear by

No mat­ter what’s keep­ing your lit­tle one up, these sim­ple strate­gies that doc­tors rely on when their own kids toss and turn will have your child drift­ing off to dream­land in no time!

First For Women - - Feel-Good File -

For bed­time ex­cite­ment

A sooth­ing say­ing

“When my three kids are to­gether, there’s a lot of en­ergy and gig­gles, es­pe­cially close to bed­time,” says Mon­ica Ag­gar­wal, M.D., coau­thor of Find­ing Bal­ance: Em­power Your­self with Tools to Com­bat Stress and Ill­ness. “To help bring on calm with­out abruptly squash­ing their fun, we do a breath­ing and mantra ex­er­cise.” She has them take 10 deep breaths while ly­ing in bed. “Kids don’t want com­pli­cated in­struc­tions, so I just tell them to take a deep breath in and let it all out re­ally slowly.” Be­tween each breath, the kids re­peat a mantra, like,

I am good or I am loved. “The com­bi­na­tion of breath­ing and the mantra is very pow­er­ful. It gives the kids some­thing pos­i­tive to fo­cus on, which calms their body and mind,” says Dr. Ag­gar­wal. They’re usu­ally asleep within 10 min­utes.

For sched­ule-change rest­less­ness

Mag­ne­sium “tea”

“My son didn’t al­ways re­spond well to changes in rou­tine, like back-to-school time,” says mother-of-three Ral­lie McAl­lis­ter, M.D., coau­thor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. So she gave him a pow­dered mag­ne­sium sup­ple­ment (like Nat­u­ral Calm Specifics Kids, which also boasts the sooth­ing amino acid L-thea­nine, $20 for 31 serv­ings, Nat­u­ralVi­tal­ity.com) at bed­time. “He’d be out like a light within a half hour,” says Dr. McAl­lis­ter. The min­eral re­laxes tense mus­cles, which helps usher in sleep. To do: Add 1⁄2 tsp. of the pow­der to 2 oz. of hot wa­ter. Let fizz, stir, then fill the rest of the mug with warm wa­ter.

For stress-in­duced sleep­less­ness

A calm­ing scent

“I’ve used a spe­cial ‘night-night spray’ on my chil­dren since they were tod­dlers,” says Sarah Vil­lafranco, M.D., founder of Os­mia Or­gan­ics nat­u­ral skin care. And she still uses it on her kids, now 9 and 13. “It’s es­pe­cially use­ful in times of anx­i­ety.” She fills a 2 oz. spray bot­tle with wa­ter and 5 drops each of calm­ing laven­der, chamomile, man­darin and at­las cedar­wood es­sen­tial oils and spritzes it above the kids’ beds at bed­time. If you can’t find all the oils, Dr. Vil­lafranco sug­gests us­ing laven­der (it in­creases deep, slow-wave sleep) and man­darin (a nat­u­ral seda­tive). “They wait for the mist to hit their faces and in­hale. I’ve been do­ing this since they were small, so their brains and bodies are con­di­tioned to know the scent means it’s time to sleep—and they drift off.”

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