Babies and children are constantly growing, and getting enough sleep is fundamental in promoting this growth.
It seems like our little ones have endless bouts of energy (especially around bedtime) but that is untrue. According to the National Sleep Foundation sleepiness in young children can show itself as symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)1. Children will act as if they’re not tired to resist bedtime and therefore will act more hyper in the evening. Even if your child is having a tantrum about bedtime, it may be because they are overtired.
So, how do we remedy this and get our children into a good bedtime routine? Unfortunately, there is no perfect way because every child is different, and every parent faces various struggles with bedtime.
However, there are a few strong and universal tips and tricks for getting your child into a good sleep routine but remember this is a process and your little one is doing their best to adapt to their new routines and learn along with you.
You are a team, not competitors.
I hope you’ll find our tips helpful and insightful…
- Understand what type of sleeper your child is
Is your child a night owl? (Yawn) Or an early riser? (Yawn, again). Sometimes, no matter what you try your child has their own pattern, which you as the parent may have to adapt to.
If you’ve noticed that your child is naturally waking up at 5 am, and you try putting them to bed later to change that, then this may unsettle their routine even more.
Over time your child will (hopefully) start to wake up a bit later, but if your child has a routine which works for them then eventually, it will work for you too (give it time)!
- Create a positive bedtime routine
Our little ones are just like us, they enjoy winding down in the evening too!
A positive bedtime routine will prepare their mind for sleeping, so make the routine relaxing and comforting. This routine could be a bath, teeth-brushing, a bedtime story (with cuddles!), and then sleep but finding this “perfect routine” may take some experimentation.
Cutting out any screen time from this routine is strongly advised because though it may seem to be “quiet time” for your child, their mind is still active. The National Sleep Foundation states electronic devices before bed delay the body’s internal clock, which “suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin”2 making it harder to fall asleep. Screen time before bed may also lead to negative sleeping habits as they get older. Perhaps consider introducing and enforcing a curfew on TV watching or tablet use.
- Create a sleep-inducing environment
If your child’s play-time toys are out on display, and not hidden away before, then this may be an unwelcome distraction to your child’s evening routine. Instead surround them with their favourite cuddly toys and ensure their bed sheets are soft and comforting.
While reading their bedtime story, close the curtains, and put on a night light. Bright lights will deter sleep as they associate it with daytime (and playtime). This can be especially tricky to do in the summer months and it may be worth investing in a black-out blind or improvising with a sheet to simulate “night-time”.
- Put their cuddly toy to bed as well
Most children have their favourite teddy bear, which either follows them everywhere or is always beside them when they sleep – incorporate this toy into their routine.
You could buy their teddy a toothbrush and some pajamas. This may help them get excited about bedtime because they have been given the responsibility to put their teddy to bed as well.
This can also be a clever way to encourage your child to have positive thoughts about sleep. Say things like “teddy needs a good amount of sleep, so they can play lots of games with you tomorrow”.
- Understand what anxieties your child may have about sleeping
The common phrase “my child is allergic to sleep” is thrown around a lot, and there may be some truth in that.
Obviously not literally, but we may be unintentionally ignoring some anxieties our children may have about sleeping.
Remember, like I said you are a team and not competitors, so therefore you need to listen to the concerns of your team-mate to help support them.
Ask questions such as “Mummy/daddy loves to sleep, do you like sleeping?” Depending on their answer, this may be the opening to be able to reassure them about any concerns they have.
Maybe they are scared about a dark corner in their room, which could be remedied with a nightlight. They may be scared of monsters under the bed/in the cupboard – incorporate “checks” in to the routine to calm their anxieties.
There is so much to say when it comes to the issue’s parents have with getting their child into a good sleep routine, but I hope these tips will help you have a more positive experience. If you’re struggling, don’t worry as you’re not alone just try to be kind to yourself. There are countless resources online to help you and remember what works for one child won’t necessarily work for another – there is no “perfect method”. If you have your child’s best interests at heart, then you’re already heading in the right direction.
Remember, it won’t be long until you have trouble getting them out of bed in the morning!
Stay being super, parents!
With all our love,
The ChewyMoon Family.