Getting our kids to fall asleep usually takes more than telling them to go count sheep. Some children need more attention when it comes to going to bed, while for others a simple good night kiss will do. No matter the case, building a consistent bedtime routine is sure to create healthy sleeping habits for our children.
The first step towards a successful sleep schedule is to determine what exactly your child’s needs are. Are they still fairly active well into the evening? Are they showing signs of restlessness around the same time every night? These are all things to consider when determining the proper time to get ready for bed. Once we decide what the best and what the most regular bedtime will be for our kids and schedules, we need to stick to it. Consistency is key here, so it is important to be realistic when choosing a bedtime. So, what’s involved in a bedtime routine? Now, that’s completely up to you and what your child prefers! There are so many ways to ease into some pleasant Z’s, but here are a few to get you started:
- Bedtime Wind Down: If we expect our kids to be in bed by nine, we should give an hour’s notice to stop whatever high-energy activity we are engaging in and begin the progression into a calmer state. This means turning off any high impact TV shows or videos games and stopping the running around. You can even set a timer or an alarm to notify everyone that the bedtime countdown has begun.
- Light Night Snack: One of the most infamous excuses that we get form our kids when we are trying to get them into bed is “I’m hungry!” – so let’s beat them to it. Create a before sleep snack an hour before bed that will signal the kitchen closing. Keep it light, and make sure it has both protein and carbohydrates. Cheese slices and whole grain crackers, or milk with a non-sugary cereal are good options. The carb and protein combo will level blood sugar and also make everyone a little sleepier. Best part? No hunger pang excuses!
- Soothing Shower or Bath: A baby or young child will get some instant relaxation by taking a warm bath. Even a quick shower for the older kids in the family can help ease tense muscles from a sports game or activity and get them ready for sleep.
- Get Comfy: Have comfortable pajamas ready for your kids so that getting into their sleeping uniform isn’t a hassle. Choose pajamas that are appropriate for the season or climate so that no one gets too hot or too cold.
- In-Bed Activity: Keep any in-bed activities to a minimum. Reading a story to a young child or toddler is a favorite bedtime ritual that creates a calming atmosphere. Soft music is also another way to help kids fall asleep – just make sure it’s nothing too aggressive.
Remember, whatever bedtime routine you choose it will most likely change as your child grows. The most important thing is that the foundation you’ve helped establish will stay the same and over the years your child will have gained healthy sleeping habits!
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