Some kids like plenty of sleep and getting them to bed is not normally much of a problem but for others, trying to get them ready for bed and then asleep, can be a daily challenge.
Implementing bedtime rituals and getting into a regular routine at night time can help your child to settle down and hopefully after a while, the nightly rituals will lead to a great night’s sleep every time.
Here are some tips and suggestions to help your child get ready for bed and enjoy a restful sleep once they are tucked in.
Encourage a relaxing routine
It may take a few attempts to find the perfect bedtime routine but once you are able to establish and regularly implement a relaxing nightly habit, getting your child to bed should become less of a challenge and more of a fun time to share with them.
You might decide to do something like getting matching family pajamas so that everyone is the same and looks ready for bed, encouraging them to think they are not being treated differently, even though their bedtime maybe the earliest in the home.
A good bedtime routine should last about 30 minutes and end in their bedroom. It is best to avoid TV or using something like the iPad for some entertainment as this will be too stimulating.
Instead, choose a favorite book or a new story which is not too scary and settle in with them in the bedroom to read with them, after they have washed and brushed their teeth.
One of the big problems that many parents experience is their child waking or calling out after you have put them to bed.
If you hear your child calling out for you shortly after you have just put them to bed, try to wait for a short while before responding. This is always a difficult scenario to get right, but you are trying to allow them the chance to fall asleep and become aware that you will not come running as soon they call out.
If they actually come out of the bedroom and come looking for you, remind them that it is their bedtime and guide them back gently but firmly into their bedroom and remind them that it is time to go to sleep.
Many of us had our own comforter when we were children so see if your child latches on to a blanket or a cuddly toy, which they can use to take to bed with them as part of the nightly routine and to give them the reassurance of familiarity.
Eating before bed
Another good way of ensuring that your child is rested and ready for bed is to avoid feeding them any big meals shortly before their bedtime.
Giving them too much to digest in a short space of time is not going to encourage restfulness and do your best to avoid anything that contains caffeine at least six before their chosen bed time.
It is often the case that having firm rules in place about bedtimes can actually help the child develop a regular sleep routine rather than cause any anxiety.
Some parents understandably worry about upsetting their child before bed and think that they make the situation worse, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that provided you have clearly explained the rules to them, your child will actually be reassured by the presence of a strict bedtime routine.
If you are consistent with enforcing the rules, your child will quickly understand what to expect and learn to adapt and even enjoy the predictability of their sleep routine.
Rewards and penalties
Praising and rewarding your child for observing the bedtime rules and staying in bed for the night is a good idea within reason, but words of encouragement and praise are often just as effective.
What you don’t want to do is associate the bedroom with negative behavior, so try to avoid using the bedroom for time-out’s or as a punishment if they have been told off for some misdemeanour.
It shouldn’t take too long to establish a workable bedtime ritual which works and results in them sleeping through the night without any problems.
Allison Ernst is a working mom and is a health professional. She always appreciates the chance to share her insights and experiences online. Her thoughts can be found on a number of different family-orientated websites.