After the end of a long day, the last thing any parent wants to do is fight with their child over bedtime. But for many families, bedtime is a daily source of stress and anxiety that climaxes with a full blown war. The parents want nothing more than their child to go to bed, and the child wants nothing more than to stay awake. While in many cases, the child wins and ends up falling asleep in his parents’ arms, in their bed, or even on the floor, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Consider these 6 ways parents can win the bedtime battle once and for all.
1. Have a consistent bedtime routine. Have you ever noticed that a young child loves to read the same books over and over again? Children love repetition and love anticipating what comes next. The same is true with bedtime. Kids find comfort in consistent routines. When a solid bedtime routine is established, it builds feelings of comfort, safety and security in the child. Each evening, start your bedtime routine after dinner. Give your child a bath and follow it up with a quiet activity, like reading a book, together. When it’s time to put your child to bed, give him a hug and a kiss before tucking him in. The more consistent your bedtime routine is, the less pushback you’ll get from your child.
2. Set the mood of the room for sleep. Have you ever noticed that babies can be lulled to sleep by the sound of a vacuum cleaner? The white noise a vacuum creates is soothing and drowns out other sounds. Young children, especially babies, tend to sleep better with white noise in their midst. Whether it’s a fan or a white noise machine, having white background noise helps kids fall and stay asleep. Having the room dark and the temperature set between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit can also boost a child’s sleep quality and amount.
3. Establish healthy sleep habits. While it can be tempting to rock your baby to sleep, don’t. Instead, put your baby to sleep when she’s drowsy, eyelids heavy, but still awake. Doing so allows her to learn to fall asleep on her own. Many parents allow their older children to fall asleep watching television in bed. When kids watch television right before bed, they have a harder time falling and staying asleep. Helping your child establish healthy sleep habits will ensure he gets enough good, quality sleep.
4. Keep kids well rested during the day. Many parents stop allowing their children to nap because they believe that if they nap during the day, they won’t sleep at night. The reality is that overtired children are much harder to put to bed at night. Depriving your child of needed daytime sleep will typically make nighttime sleep worse, not better.
5. Avoid stimulating activities before bed. After work, some parents enjoy nothing more than roughhousing and wrestling with their children. When active playtime happens right before bed, children can get wound up and calming them down becomes problematic. For nighttime family fun, consider playing a quiet board game or reading a book.
6. Be sure that everyone is on the page. Whether it’s mom, dad or the nanny putting the children to bed, everyone should follow the same routine. If mom’s ready to sleep train the baby and dad keeps going in the room and picking the baby up, the baby gets mixed messages. Children put up less of a battle when the bedtime routine and expectations are kept consistent.
While bedtime is often stressful, it doesn’t have to be. Bedtime can be a calming experience, if it’s approached in a structured and consistent way.