Hello lovelies, if you are a single parent like me or even a couple who are equally frazzled, you know the nightly challenge which is getting your kids to bed and then getting them to actually stay there! If you are in search a magic drink or pill to ‘make bedtime easier with kids’, you won’t find that here unfortunately (believe me I’ve looked for them haha!) but what you will get are TEN tried and tested methods to put to practice at home to help your kids learn to go to sleep without a battle or in my case a screaming fit, tears flowing, red faces, stamping feet and general chaos…..oh yes I’ve been THAT mother.
The one who sits at the bottom of her stairs, outside the Childs bedroom crying, praying to god just for them to go to sleep and then given in taken them in to my bed where I then got no sleep because I had little feet in my back, or kicked during the night, but anything just for five minutes of sleep and I know I am not alone.
So to help you frazzled, zombie looking mamas and dadas out I’ve put together ten of my tried and tested top tips to get your beautiful little non sleeping monsters to sleep. I have used ALL of these on both my daughters and they worked a treat so wanted to share what I learned through the years of sheer torture of having one child who wouldn’t sleep who would then wake the other night after night.
So here are my tips…
1: Night time schedule.
Your little one may not be great at telling the time just yet, but by god their internal clocks know precisely what time it is especially at 5am when the sun comes up boom they’re wide awake. So putting your child to bed at the same time, night after night helps them naturally settle into their night time routine without as much of a battle they begin to understand ok this is bed time I always chose half past eight.
While it’s very tempting to let your child stay up late at the weekends or in the Summer time when its lighter for longer, consistently is always key no matter what. The more you allow interruptions other than the occasional late night here and there (by accident), the harder bedtime will come without a consistent set time.
2: Daily routine.
Yip I know this is about sleeping but having a daily routine or rather, a daily schedule each day for meals, naps etc sets the expectation for your child when it’s time to wind down and prepare for bed.
After dinner, our typical night included bath time, putting on pyjamas, brushing teeth, reading a book and snuggles on the sofa with a warm milk. A nice calm environment leading up to bedtime, without stimulation, play fighting, tv screens or loud noise keep the dance parties in the kitchen before dinner.
3: Turn off tv or iPad.
While it’s tempting (oh believe me I know!) to kill the last hour before bedtime with a TV show or tablet time watching youtube etc, try to avoid exposure to screens before sleep. doing this doesn’t help kids relax, in fact watching and playing games or shows with violence, high-energy, suspense or drama stoke the fires inside a child and can make it hard for them to calm down, or can give them nightmares and in turn wake them during the night.
4: Set individualised bedtimes.
School-age children need between 9 – 11 hours of sleep each night, but there’s a lot of variability in sleep needs and patterns. your children will have patterns that don’t change much, no matter what you do. An early riser will still get up early even if you put them to bed later, and a night owl won’t usually fall asleep until their body is ready. Know how much sleep your child needs to wake up refreshed and set an appropriate bedtime. Also if there is more than one child at different ages stagger their bedtime stagger their bedtimes youngest going first oldest last it will be easier to get them all settled without waking each other up.
Your child’s sleep cycle isn’t just dependent on light or dark. It’s also sensitive to the temperature of the room. Melatonin levels help to regulate the drop of internal body temperature needed to sleep, but you can help regulate the external temperature. Don’t bundle your child up too much or set the heat too high; typical room temperature or a little cooler is better to promote deep sleep.
6: Provide the protection of fears.
A lot of children have childhood fears mine included. Instead of dismissing bedtime fears, address them. If simple reassurance doesn’t work, you can try buying a special toy to stand guard at night or spray the room with “monster spray” before bed. (A can of air freshener with a creative new label works well.) reassure them that you’re only outside the room leave a night light on and door a jar if it will help.
7: reduce the focus on sleep.
Children Just like adults, can have trouble shutting their brains off for the night their little minds are just as busy as ours. Instead of increasing that anxiety by insisting it’s time to sleep, your going to bed soon, half an hour till bed, consider focusing more on the idea of relaxation and calming your child’s body down. it will in turn ease them into it without them even knowing.
8: Create the perfect environment for sleep.
Your child’s bedroom should help promote sleeping. It’s best to keep their room dark, quiet, and cool. Some children (especially mine when they were babies) want at least a little light in their room, so a nightlight or a dim light is perfectly acceptable. If they can’t sleep in silence or you want to drown out some of the noises from the rest of the house, use a noise machine with static sounds or waves crashing, you can purchase them on Amazon or a fan to create a rhythmic, steady sound.
9: Avoid meals or caffeine at bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant and not very good for children anyways. However, if you do allow your child the occasional soft drink, make sure that they don’t have any drinks containing sugar and caffeine within 3 hours of bedtime instead offer them a warm glass of milk or water thats what my daughters drink. Snacks are perfectly acceptable before bedtime as long as they’re healthy and not very filling. If your child asks for a food before bedtime offer a light healthy snack such as fruit or crackers.
10: Sleep disorders.
Keep a close eye on both your child’s nighttime sleeping behaviors and patterns as well as how they function during the day. If they are chronically tired during the day, have difficulty concentrating on homework, or have behavioral problems at home or school, it could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder. if you think this is the case take your child to see the local GP who will refer you to a specialist.
These are my tried and tested top ten tips, I really hope they help even one person get their child to sleep through the night. I know there is parents out there needing help just like I did.
Thank you for reading my blog post please leave a comment if you have any questions.