It’s not always easy to get your child tucked in when bedtime rolls around. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to get them to stay put in their bed, let alone fall asleep. However, what if I told you there was a way to relax your child at night which would make children’s bedtime easier – so they not only jump in bed without putting up a fight, but they’re actually excited for it? If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Here are a few things you can do with your child before bed to make them feel relaxed, tired, and ready to fall asleep.
Read Them A Bedtime Story
There’s a reason why bedtime stories have been a favorite pastime for parents and children spanning from generation to generation. It promotes literacy, language development, and strengthens the bond between you and your child. Not to mention, children love storytime! If you’re wondering at what age you should start reading to them, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to begin as early as birth. Just make sure you’re picking out age-appropriate stories.
Material for babies should be simple, repetitive, and colorful. Think Goodnight Moon or almost anything by Dr. Seuss. For toddlers and 4-6 years old, you should read them books with slightly bigger vocab, and characters who go through experiences your child can relate to. If you have a 7-12 year old, they’re ready to take on the challenge of chapter books containing more complex vocabulary and plot lines.
Make Sure Their Sleeping Space Is Cozy
It’s more difficult for your child to feel relaxed if they aren’t in a comfortable sleep environment. To make children’s bedtime easier, the temperature of their room should be a happy medium between warm and cool, and you should eliminate any external noise like traffic or car horns. If you live in a particularly noisy area, you can use child-friendly sound machines to drown out bothersome noise.
Your child’s mattress should also be comfortable for them. You don’t need to purchase something as nice or luxurious as the mattress you sleep on, especially considering they probably won’t notice the difference. You should, however, make sure they have a cozy sleeping space. Most children enjoy soft mattresses because they weigh so little, they don’t apply much pressure to a bed. That means a medium or medium-firm mattress might feel a bit too firm for them. You might want to consider a gel memory foam mattress. They’re soft, and your child will feel like they’re getting a warm hug once they become nestled by the viscous top layers of the bed.
Sing Them A Lullaby
When it comes to making children’s bedtime easier, a good ol’ lullaby is a classic way to make your child feel relaxed before bedtime. You can sing them songs your mother or father sang you when you were a kid like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Lullaby Baby, or you could sing them something a little more modern like viral sensation Baby Shark. The best part is though, you don’t have to be good at singing because your child is always your number one fan!
No Electronics Before Bed
Electronics become more and more integrated into your child’s day-to-day life as they get older and start wanting their own mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. The light that emanates from the screen of electronics, however, can be detrimental to a children’s sleep and make it harder for them to relax for bed.
First of all, it disrupts their body’s circadian rhythm, which helps regulate their sleep-wake cycle and is heavily influenced by light and darkness. Consequently, it makes it harder for your child’s body to recognize when it should start winding down. Secondly, blue light from electronic devices also keeps their brain stimulated, because the constant buzzing and notifications keep their brain on alert mode, as opposed to sleep mode. To avoid this, make a rule that your child has to stay off electronics at least an hour to an hour and a half before bedtime.
Address Bedtime Fears
Maybe your child is afraid of the dark, or perhaps it’s the “green 4-eyed monster” hiding underneath their bed. Whatever their fear might be, you should address them with your son or daughter before they go to sleep. Rather than acting dismissive, teach them how to be courageous and overcome their fears.
After showing them there’s really nothing to be afraid of, remind them how brave they are and they’re in control of their own heads. Rather than letting their imagination conjure up a scary monster lurking in the dark, tell them to imagine something happy like a big ice cream cone or them playing with their favourite animal.
Nightlights are common tools for parents to help ease their children’s fear of the dark, but like we discussed earlier, light could have a negative impact on your child’s sleep. Not so surprisingly, a good alternative to a nightlight is a fuzzy stuffed animal. In a 2012 study by the Adler Center for Research in Child Development and Psychopathology, researchers selected random children with bedtime fears in a control group and gave them a stuffed animal to sleep with. The children who were given stuffed animals experienced less fear and disrupted sleep than those who weren’t given a stuffed animal.
Don’t Rush Bath Time
You probably have a nighttime routine with your child already that includes something along the lines of brushing their teeth, and giving them a bath. Bath time can be really enjoyable and relaxing for your child, but parents tend to quickly breeze through it to get their child into bed quicker. Think about how much you love a nice bath session — let your child enjoy theirs as well.
Have A Set Bedtime And Nighttime Routine
Children respond positively to repetition and routines and routines are a great way of making children’s bedtime easier. It’s helpful to get them to bed at the same time each night, and incorporate a relaxing routine to your regular nighttime schedule. It’s beneficial to their internal body alarm clock as it’ll signal their body to start winding down after it recognizes bedtime is near, but research also shows that it aids in brain development. In the study, children with irregular bedtimes behaved worse than children with bedtimes, and their behavior improved after incorporating a bedtime.
Make sure to talk to your kids about a bedtime plan, and let them offer input on what they’d like to do during their bedtime routine. Your routine will likely contain a combination of activities mentioned in this post, and things your little one came up with themselves.
Have you tried any of the above to make children’s bedtime easier? Or perhaps you find it challenging getting your little ones to bed? Do leave in a comment below.
McKenzie Dillon is a blogger and sleep enthusiast for The Slumber Yard, a reviews site that focuses on bedding products. When she’s not sleeping, McKenzie likes attending comedy shows, hiking and cooking.