I love this quote on parenting, “Parenting is as crazy as circumnavigating the globe without a map…but, oh, what a journey!” So true. Each parent has their own unique “parenting” story filled with anxious yet fun-filled moments, but in the end, every single effort is worth it. As babies grow into toddlers, the biggest challenge that parents face is making them eat and putting them to sleep. You will be surprised how they can look and feel so full of energy at the end of a tiring day when the only thing you want to do is hit the bed. Why is it so difficult to create a bedtime routine for kids? How to create one and make it enjoyable for toddlers? Let’s explore these issues and try to get to some solutions.
How To Create A Bedtime Routine?
Regular schedules and bedtime routine may sound archaic, but they do play a vital role in making your child sleep well and get up refreshed. It’s true that there are no hard and fast rules to be followed because what works for you may not work for me. Nevertheless, it is important to have a routine and stick with it.
Ideally, you must reserve an hour prior to bedtime for quiet play, snuggling, reading a story together and this must be consistently followed each night in the same order. Of course, the routine evolves and undergoes a transition as the child grows, but the basics must be the same—changing into a nightdress, brushing, reading etc.
Here are some tips to get started:
Fix a specific time to go to the bedroom and stick to it
Give your child a warning just before 5 minutes, so he/she can be ready
A light snack helps kids to sleep well and stay asleep too
Some kids might enjoy a warm bath just before going to bed
Get them dressed in comfortable clothing and play a soft music in the background
Read a story together
Make sure the light is dimmed and noise level in the house is low
Some kids feel secure when they sleep with their favorite doll/ soft toy
Sometimes kids might want a last visit to the washroom just before they go to bed, or a glass of water. That’s ok. Remember to hug your child and kiss them goodnight. Make sure they understand that once they get on bed, they need to stay there
How To Make Bedtime Easier For Kids?
Here are little steps you can follow to make bedtime easier for your little ones.
Kids may not know to see the time, but their bodies get adapted to sleep timings. So remember to stick to the bed timings even during the weekends
It’s best to switch off TV and electronic gadgets at least sometime before going to sleep
On certain days, kids may be too tired to settle down. Therefore, it is always better to have an early bedtime, say, between 7:30 and 8 p.m
Make a chart laying out the routine in steps; you’ll be amazed at how the kids love to follow it
Make sure all the activities relating to bedtime (changing into comfortable clothes, giving a bath, reading a book) all happen in the same room. Don’t keep these activities all over the house
Make sure your kid/s has had enough activities/exercises during the day to not just stay healthy but sleep better
Try to avoid afternoon naps; that can affect sleep at night
Sometimes kids request for more time or some water, or they just try to be naughty. Be firm and say no when you have to
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns need at least 12 to 18 hours of sleep each day. As they grow, the number of hours gradually reduces. Toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours while for preschoolers (3-5 years) 11-13 hours is more ideal. As they grow even older, 10-11 hours is sufficient. For details on this and more, look up here. But the biggest challenge and the question in the minds of most parents is, why don’t kids want to sleep on time? Well, maybe the reasons could be:
Fear of the dark
Fear of being alone/away from mummy
High energy and therefore wants to play more
These could be some simple and general reasons, but if sleep problem persists and gets chronic to the point that the child fails to fall asleep and stay asleep despite being soothed and getting tired, then you need to consult a specialist.
How Do You Get Your Child To Go To Sleep?
Is there a way to tackle the problem and find a mutual solution? Of course, there is. Here are some tips to get you started. Of course, you can get creative and design your own.
You could design a reward chart and include sleep habits in it too. That way your child is motivated to follow the instructions from you and settle down soon. This ultimately becomes a win-win situation for both
Make the room comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold. Don’t bundle up your baby too tight. Make it easier for them to fall sleep
Sometimes, when kids are scared to sleep alone, you could pretend to use monster spray to keep the monsters away. At other times, you could try to make one of their toys to stand guard for the night. The more creative you get, the easier it gets
You could spend some time with them and pretend to sleep with them for the night to calm them down
As already mentioned, sleep hours are important for every child, but each child is unique and therefore you may have to follow one that suits your child and his needs. What is ultimately important is the number of hours they get to sleep so that they can get back to their fresh and active self the next day. Many parents have a tough time getting their kids into a routine, but with practice and extra patience, it is possible.