If your child’s bedtime is a struggle, you’re not alone. Whether it’s asking for a drink of water every 5 minutes, hearing “I’m not tired”, or a meltdown in general, bedtime can be chaos. We all know that sleep is important, but for children, getting enough sleep helps with things like behavior and learning. Studies show that poor sleep habits in childhood can lead to difficulty sleeping as an adult. To help bedtimes go smoother, you can try the following tips:
Establish a bedtime routine. Having a consistent set of activities to help your child get ready for bed helps your child know what to expect each night at bedtime and gives her a sense of security. A bedtime routine may include a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas and reading a story. Keep it short, 20-30 minutes, and simple.
Set a realistic bedtime based on the amount of sleep your child needs. Children of different ages need different amounts of sleep. While the amount of sleep needed can vary for each individual, the general guidelines for sleep requirements can be found here.
Provide a good sleep environment. Making sure toys are put away, lights are dimmed and pajamas are easily found can help reduce stress related to bedtime and eliminate distractions. Taking time to set up a peaceful environment can go a long way.
Use sleep visualizations or bedtime stories to help your child relax. Just like adults, children may have a hard time shutting off their thoughts so they can fall asleep. Using a relaxation app like Calm for bedtime stories or this guided meditation for children can help soothe your child and help him fall asleep. You can also provide something to focus on, like stars or a solar system on the ceiling.
Don’t be part of the problem. Parents often reinforce their child’s poor sleep habits without realizing they are doing it. While we may have the best intentions in helping our child fall asleep, we actually encourage habits that keep us running back to their room for one thing or another. You can find a list of mistakes to avoid here and here.
Hopefully, these tips will help your child’s bedtimes become easier so your child (and you!) can get a good night’s sleep. If you are still concerned about your child’s sleep, talk to your child’s physician to make sure there aren’t any underlying health conditions causing sleep problems in your child.