10 Ideas for Getting Your Child to Sleep

How a Bedtime Routine Can Help Kids Get Their Zzzs
Dad reading a bedtime story to children before bed

Ahh, bedtime. We won’t sugarcoat it – sometimes getting your kids ready for bed is a chore. However, creating a consistent routine is crucial for their development. You know that! Sleep helps them thrive, grow and avoid excessive daytime sleepiness. In addition to having a direct effect on happiness, research shows that sleep impacts alertness and tentation, cognitive performance, mood, learning and memory.  

It’s an essential building block for their mental and physical health. If you’re finding it impossible to help your kiddo sleep, you’re not alone. Research shows that a consistent bedtime routine is helpful for making sure your child gets enough sleep. Whatever routine you choose, keep it consistent in the same order so your child knows what to expect!  

Here are 10 techniques you can incorporate to bedtime: 

1. Establishing what a routine looks like for you and your kids 

Is that picking up toys first, then changing into clean pajamas and finally brushing their teeth? Or maybe bedtime routine looks like a bath, followed by a warm cup of milk and lying with them reading a bedtime story.  

The routine will look different for everyone and your child's needs. While establishing once that looks like, after you got it down to a T, stick with it! Consistency is key. It embodies the characteristics of nurturing care and early child stimulation, which are essential for positive outcomes.  

2. Reminders

Give your child a reminder of what comes next. "First we will ..., then we will ..." 

3. Visual Schedules 

Some children will benefit from visual reminders of what comes next. Create a chart using pictures, for example, of pajamas, a toothbrush, bed, book, lights out. 

4. White noise 

Does nose help relax your child? Consider a fan or a noise machine to unwind and help them fall asleep faster.  

5. Diet 

Allow your child to eat a light and healthy snack and/or get a small drink (but no large amounts of liquid).If your child is having trouble falling asleep, consider if his diet could be playing a role. Monitor consumption of sugar and caffeine. 

6. Unplug 

Make sure your child turns off electronics and TV before going to bed. 

7. Night Lights 

Use nightlight or child light for fears. Consider using one of the child alarm clocks that glow green when it's OK to wake. 

8. Evaluate naps 

Is your child having a hard time getting to sleep? Is your child 4 or 5? Maybe consider skipping or reducing nap times. 

9. Rules 

Determine the number of stories in the bedtime reading session, establish limits on leaving their room, decide on the quota for hugs, and set parameters for engaging with books while dozing off. It's common for children to test boundaries to stretch their bedtime, so it's crucial to establish boundaries that are both resolute and just. Consider this scenario: if your bedtime routine involves bidding goodnight to the family pets and your child continues to linger, stroke, and play with the pets extensively, it's a cue to define the specific parameters of saying goodnight to the pets.  

10. One-on-one Time 

Nurturing a strong connection with your child is paramount. Engage in activities like reading stories, singing songs, or simply sharing quiet moments together. If your child seeks extra attention by waking up, consider extending your quality time together during the day to minimize the need for prolonged attention at bedtime. 

Without proper management, bedtime routines can unintentionally stretch, losing their intended effectiveness. Preparing for active days can also make a difference, preventing your child from having excessive energy when bedtime arrives. While tailoring the routine to your family's needs is important, it's beneficial to establish reasonable boundaries and timeframes. These guidelines will help your child maintain a consistent and predictable nighttime schedule.

Raising kids can be challenging. The Village can help. Contact the office nearest you make an appointment with one of our counselors, or request an appointment online.
*Originally posted March 2019

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