Getting a good night’s sleep is important, especially for children. Sleep helps children grow, maintain a healthy weight and fight bugs and germs. A good night sleep can also help your child prevent injury, increase their attention span and boost their learning abilities.
While we can all agree that sleep is a very good thing, what is trickier to pinpoint is what is the best way to get your child to bed and ON TIME.
That’s where a good bedtime routine comes into play. While there is no-one-size-fits-all solution, a consistent routine will make the bedtime process easier. This is because children excel at doing tasks that they are prepared for and know what will come after. When they don’t know what will happen next, they are likely to find the transition more challenging.
What does this challenge actually look like? Think full tantrum mode.
As parents, we have all been there, all of a sudden it’s time to clean up and get ready to bed and your child suddenly pitches a fit exclaiming they don’t want to go to bed!
Even with a bedtime routine in place, this will happen time to time. However, it will happen less if you are prepared and have a bedtime routine in place.
Here are 8 important things you need to know in order to create a successful bedtime routine: Don’t use increments of time to tell your child to get ready for bed.
Children don’t understand the concept of time the same way adults do. When you tell a child he has only five minutes until bedtime; it won’t register as they don’t understand what five minutes truly means.
Good alternatives are, “When you’re done with your snack, it’s time for bed” or “When your movie is over, it is time for bed.” These examples give your child a sense of time in a way they can understand. They also will give your child enough warning but also lets him know what’s going to happen next.
Children respond positively when they know what to expect next. Therefore, make sure your child’s bedtime routine is predictable and is made of the same sequence of events each night. This way your child will be able to execute their routine every night no matter where they are.
As your child gets older, the routine is bound to change. However, the foundation will remain in place.
While technology is now part of our day-to-day life, electronics can have a serious impact on our sleep. Aside from keeping your brain alert, the blue light from your screen can reduce your melatonin production — a chemical we need to get a good night’s sleep.
To prevent these things from occurring, make sure that at least an hour before your child goes to bed, make sure all their electronics are powered off and away for the day.
Instead of sending your kid right off to bed, make sure her bedtime routine includes a certain amount of time to unwind and quite down. This could be in the form of quiet play, cuddling with your kid on the couch or reading a few bedtime stories together.
Also, try not to announce “bed time!” as this might set off our child especially if they don’t want to go to bed.
Before putting your child to bed, take the time to create a comfortable sleeping environment. Depending on the time of year this could mean turning on the AC or cranking up the heat.
If your child needs a snack before hitting the hay, make sure that you choose something that doesn’t have caffeine or a lot of sugar. If they do have a snack, make sure he or she brushes his or her teeth afterward, even if that means brushing them twice in one night.
Before shutting off the lights and closing the door, you should say goodnight (or something of the equivalent) to your child before leaving the room. While this might be hard at first, try not to come back into the room afterward. This will teach your child that goodnight means go to sleep.
Each child shows signs of tiring out in different ways so be on alert. As soon as you start to see them, make sure you begin to go through your bedtime routine, even if that means getting started early.
While there is no magic formula to get your child to go to bed, a solid bedtime routine will help! Also, check out the table below to see how many hours of sleep your child should ideally get.
7-9 (3-5 naps)
4-5 (3 naps)
4-5 (2-3 naps)
3-4 (2 naps)
2-3 (2 naps)
2-3 (1-2 naps)
18 months – 2 years
2 (1 nap)
1-2 (1 nap)
0-1 (naps usually stop by age 5)
Sleep chart from Parents.com