Helping your children settle into bed

March 23rd, 2017 / by / in: Parenting / No responses

Children and their parents need a full night’s sleep, but we all tend to have trouble sleeping occasionally. It is so important that children get a good night’s sleep because when they sleep safe and sound, so do you. Check out the following ideas to help your children get a better night’s sleep with fewer interruptions. 

Why sleep matters

Sleep is essential for people of all ages but especially children. Getting a good night’s sleep helps with brain function, energy levels, and mood. Teach your children good sleep hygiene and body clock maintenance like you would train them to care for any other aspects of their body.

Sleep journal

Keep a record of their sleep habits for a couple of weeks to see if you can connect sleepless nights with certain day-to-day activities. Try keeping track until you find a subtle pattern in sleep behavior. Sometimes, different foods can make it harder for your kids to settle down. Calcium-rich foods in the evening can sometimes help to calm your little ones. Always ask your pediatrician before giving your child a new food especially considering that cow’s milk is high in calcium yet is one of the top food allergens that should be introduced into a diet with caution.

Keep a consistent rhythm

Maintaining a consistent routine can help your children settle in for a more peaceful slumber. Determine a time for bed and plan to start winding down in advance. This can be challenging once your child has had chronic trouble sleeping. Begin the process by allowing them to fall asleep naturally first. Then, keeping that time as a temporary bedtime to reference, watch for them to fall asleep within about 15 minutes of that time. With this bedtime achieved, begin moving their bedtime about 15 minutes earlier every few days until an appropriate bedtime becomes routine. The second part to building this pattern is making sure to wake them up at the same time each morning. This might lead to some grumpy days at first, but your child will benefit in the end and enjoy catching up on sleep with the new habits.

It is best to turn off the TV an hour before their bedtime, since research shows that the light from screens might actually change brainwave patterns. This causes kids to be hyper-alert, more energetic, and restless once they lay down.

Bedtime activities

The tradition of reading bedtime stories might work wonders, but if not, then try other soothing activities. For toddlers, try activities such as sorting games, puzzles, action figures, or coloring. Once your kids reach preschool age, consider simple crafts using pipe cleaners or construction paper, or drawing time where they design interesting masterpieces to display on the fridge. School-age kids should still keep away from television before bed, with quiet activities such as journaling, reading on their own, crafts, or even quick board games and card games. 

How to keep them in bed

Once you are on track with calming nightly activities, it can still be a struggle to keep children in bed. If your child has mastered the acrobatics to escape their crib, then for safety you might need to move them to a toddler bed if it is time.

Create a calming atmosphere before bedtime. Turn down the lights and keep talking between adults quiet and minimal when they first go to bed. If they are afraid of the dark, add a lighted outlet cover that provides just enough light for them to know that the room is safe but dark enough to get a restful sleep.

If your children just can’t seem to keep still, they might have been sitting for too long, making them not tired enough to sleep. It is also possible that they were active just before bedtime and their blood is still pumping. Try keeping all physical activity in the afternoon so that they aren’t too wound up to sleep at night.

For kids who need help quieting their mind for sleep, try adding a daily habit of talking about their day in the afternoon for a few minutes so that you can know what’s going on in their life and help them solve problems that keep them awake otherwise.

Hopefully, these techniques will help set your family up for an easier bedtime. Parenting can be difficult at times, but stick with it since building new habits takes time. Remember that all children have different needs, so it is always best to check with your child’s pediatrician before trying anything new. Once your household is on track with great sleep habits, you will all have more energy and fun together.

 

Photo credit: dietertimmerman on Flickr. CC-BY-2.0.