Sleep is incredibly important for children of any age. It helps them to grow and develop and means that they are alert and energetic the next day. This can make it easier for them to learn at school or enjoy their time at home. A good night’s sleep can also reduce anxiety and stress and improve mood. Of course, if the children in our care get a good night’s sleep, this can also help us to sleep and generally make life easier, happier, and healthier. But many foster children can find it hard to sleep, especially for the first few weeks or months in a new home with a new family. Here are some tips to help your foster child get more sleep.
Spend Some Time Preparing Their Bedroom
Having a bedroom where we feel comfortable and safe can make it easier to relax, and so easier to sleep. Spend some time getting a room ready before your foster children arrive, and then as they settle, let them make some additions of their own, and encourage them to personalise the space.
Ask Them What They Need to Sleep
Some of us have things that we need to get to sleep, and children are no different. Some people need a particular blanket, a certain number of pillows, background noise or an open window. Your foster child might like to sleep with a nightlight or holding a teddy. If they are old enough, ask them about how they like to sleep, or if there are any routines that they are used to and try to accommodate their needs as much as possible.
Talk About Their Fears
If your foster child is very unsettled, there might be a specific fear that’s keeping them up. It’s normal for children to be afraid of the dark, especially if they’ve been through a traumatic experience or are in a new place. Speak with them about any fears that they have and try to alleviate them if you can.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Routines can help children to feel safe and settled, and a bedtime routine can make night times easier. Try to establish things like regular mealtimes, bath time, bedtime stories and other things that you can do every night as soon as possible.
Create a Morning Routine
A morning routine can also make bedtimes easier. Try to wake your child at the same time every morning, no matter what time they have gone to bed, or what time they need to leave the house.
A few sleepless nights are to be expected. Be patient with your foster child. Offer comfort and support and try not to get annoyed or frustrated with them.
Get More Advice
If you are worried about your foster child’s sleep patterns, or that specific issues are stopping them from sleeping, you should get some help and support from your local authority or case worker. You can also get tips and information on fostering from fosterplus.co.uk.
Children getting a good night’s sleep is good for everyone. A foster child settling into a sleep routine and enjoying a peaceful night is also a sign that they feel settled, safe, and happy. So, even if they take a while to start sleeping peacefully, you should feel very proud when they do.