Every child can benefit from a daily nap, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to get your child to actually sleep. But day after day, week after week, without a rest break can result in a fussy child prone to tears, temper tantrums and whining. A Hush Hour can provide a wonderful substitute for an actual nap.
The Hush Hour is magical in another way. It can be a much-needed break for a parent or caregiver. As much as we love our children, we still need some time off! The Hush Hour allows you a break to relax or catch up on much-needed work or household tasks.
The Hush Hour becomes most effective when used at the same time every day. Try to create a daily ritual that includes a Hush Hour in the afternoon, perhaps when your little one returns home from daycare or school.
The Hush Hour is a quiet, restful hour that takes place in an environment set up to encourage relaxation. Sleep is not required, but the setting often brings about a peaceful aftereffect, much as a nap would.
The Hush Hour can occur in your child’s bedroom or any undisturbed room in the house. If possible, remove toys and games from sight, except for a few stuffed animals or your child’s usual sleeptime lovely.
For most children it’s easier to feel relaxed in a dark room since bright light is alerting to the human mind and signals playtime to a child. Darkness can encourage restfulness.
Noisy distractions can prevent a child from resting. On the other hand, a perfectly quiet room might create anxiety instead of restfulness. To combat both issues, fill the Hush Hour with relaxing music or white noise (a recording of rainfall or ocean waves.) These sounds can be comforting and will also mask any random noises that can distract your child. As an alternative choice, you can have your child listen to an audio book. It’s a wonderful way for a child to relax and can create an enriching lifetime habit.
Since you’ll be enticing a non-tired child to rest, a comfortable surface will help your cause. A bed is good, of course, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that a bed brings better rest than any other comfortable surface. And in the case of a Hush Hour, you want your child to be the one who finds his place cozy.
Choose the place that works best for both of you. A sofa is fine. A sleeping bag on the floor can work, too. I work at home, and over the years all of my children have taken rest time in my office, either on the sofa or in a stroller parked beside me. I discovered that they loved being near me and hearing the click-click of my computer keys. The comfort of having Mom close by enabled them to get a nice rest and allowed me a work session.
The aromas of lavender, chamomile, jasmine, sweet orange and vanilla have long been used to entice relaxation. You can find scented pillows, stuffed animals, sprays, sachets or potpourri. (Don’t use candles where a child will be left alone.) These pleasant smells can enhance relaxation and can also become a cue for rest time.
The food that your child eats prior to the Hush Hour can affect his ability to relax. There are foods that can induce a feeling of calm and even drowsiness, so a well-planned lunch or snack can help your child relax. The best foods to aid rest time are: whole grains, green leafy vegetables, cow’s milk, soy milk, bananas, avocadoes, nut butters, seeds and warm milk. (And the best rest-inducing food—breast milk.)
Many children respond well to massage, back scratching or gentle touch as a way to help them relax. Massage is also proven to stimulate circulation and digestion, promote rest and boost the immune system. Massage can also increase the connection between parent and child.
Decide on a time and place, and create a simple daily routine leading up to Hush Hour. It might consist of having lunch, cleaning up, choosing a stuffed animal to rest with, selecting music, setting a timer and settling into the Hush Hour nest.
One way to help your child relax is to assure him that that The Hush Hour has a specific beginning and a certain end. You can do this by setting an iPod or clock radio to play soft music for the entire on- hour period of time. Tell your child that he can get up when the music stops. This is a wonderful method because if your child actually does fall asleep, he will likely sleep even after the sound stops.
When to Discontinue the Hush Hour
Even if your child functions well without a nap there is no harm in continuing to keep a Hush Hour built into your child’s daily schedule. Every human being benefits from a break in the middle of the day, so if you and your child enjoy the peace and tranquility then by all means, continue the practice for as long as it works for your family.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems, by Elizabeth Pantley.