Of late, sonny’s bedtime has been a breeze and so, I thought what better way to jinx it if not by sharing this parenting win with the world, right? Ha ha! Anyway, jokes apart, if bedtime is a constant battle of wills for your little one against anything and anyone who stands in favor of sleep, then this post is for you. I am going to share with you a few guidelines which have worked wonders for us during bedtime. So without further ado, let me unveil the 8 secrets for making your child’s bedtime a breeze:
1. Stick to a fixed time for bed, Every.Single.Day
Yes, during weekends too! Well, maybe you can skip it on Saturdays, but for rest of the nights choose a time for bed suiting your child’s needs and stick to it religiously. This gives your child’s biological clock a chance to align with a fixed time daily rather than trying to adjust randomly to odd hours. This is important not just from sleep perspective but also from the perspective of your child’s general health and well being. So, if you want to implement just a single tip from this list, then implement this one and see the difference.
2. Have a solid gap of 45-60 minutes between dinner and bedtime
If the gap is less, then your child will be too full and will have difficulty falling asleep and if the gap is longer, then he may get hungry again and you will need to give him a snack and brush his teeth blah-blah all over again! So, if you are a lazy parent like me 😉 then yeah, stick to the optimum gap of approximately 1 hour between dinner and bedtime.
3. Give your child 15 minutes advance notice
If you implement #1 religiously, then over time your child will automatically start feeling sleepy 10-15 minutes before bedtime, but it is always a good idea to give him a heads up because a sleepy child equals a touchy one. You never know what will piss him off, especially if he is a spirited one!
4. Ditch the afternoon nap (when your child is ready)
I took ages to let go of sonny’s afternoon naps. But ever since I have done it, bedtime has been far less of a struggle than it previously used to be. So go ahead and let your child ditch the afternoon nap when he is good and ready. Children, unlike adults, are not conditioned (yet) to choose other pursuits over and above sleep. So, if they need a nap, they will choose it (Maybe not actively, but you will have the tell-tale signs of tiredness, yawning, crankiness etc.). If not, then forcing a nap will only make nighttime sleep a struggle. So when it comes to afternoon naps, let your child be the boss.
5. Use an easy-to-follow short Bedtime Routine
Don’t have a detailed, excessively long bedtime routine because
- You will have problems following it through on daily basis and will definitely be exhausted by the end of it
- On the days when someone else has to take over, they will struggle with it
- Prolonging a bedtime routine may awaken a sleepy child instead of getting him to fall asleep quickly
For us, the below routine seems to work the best:
- Brush and Rinse
- Use the bathroom
- Drink some water (I insist on it!)
- Change to PJs
- Hop on bed, cuddle and talk quietly for 5 minutes
- Put on some music (Only instrumentals, no vocals)
- Kiss and say goodnight and quietly walk out the door
6. Don’t forget the physical environment
- For a good night’s sleep, sleeping in a darkened room is a must. Of course, children at this age are afraid of the dark sometimes, so it is a good idea to have a night light on or to keep the door slightly ajar and let some light in from the corridor.
- Making sure the child is not either too hot or too cold is also important.
- For the oversensitive ones, scratchy, itchy tags, extra items on the bed, pillow position etc. also matter (and matter a lot!), so do take care of that too!
7. Avoid over-stimulating activities just before bedtime
Anything that excites your child could turn out to be over-stimulating and a roadblock to a good night’s sleep if it is done just before bedtime. Be it watching cartoons, playing a game, running around or even reading a book, if it wakes your child up instead of settling him down, skip it. Just in case you are wondering why the “no books at bedtime” rule, it is only meant for kids like sonny. These days, he gets so excited reading books that he simply wills his sleep away just so I would read him another book and then another…and by the time we are done, he is wide awake! So yeah, for “excitable” kids like sonny, avoiding books during bedtime and sticking to just good old music works. And yes, the music also has to be all instrumental, you add vocals/lyrics to it and it may again have the opposite effect.
8. Keep your exit simple and consistent
And last, but not the least, your exit strategy. Well, if anything, your exit has to be simple, preferably honest and consistent. Once you are done putting your child to bed, kiss him goodnight and leave. If he asks you to stay, tell him about the chores you need to complete before your bedtime, do another round of cuddle and kiss and tell him that you will be back to check on him once you are finished. Then simply move on. Don’t linger. If you do it consistently and if you have followed all the above tricks, then chances are, your child will be snoring 5 minutes later when you come back to check on him.
There you have it – 8 secrets for making your child’s bedtime a breeze. What have I missed? Don’t forget to spill your secrets in the comments section below 🙂
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