Kids and Sleep: 9 Steps for a Soothing Bedtime Routine
The tone of bedtime should be calm, quiet and reassuring as you prepare your kid to separate from you all night. Done right, bedtime becomes a special, loving time to celebrate closeness; a time your child will look forward to and cherish. If you and your partner take turns at bedtime, you don't have to follow an identical script, but you should have a similar routine, style and response to any of your kid's bedtime power plays, fears or stalling. So how do you do it? A relaxing bedtime routine goes something like this:
- Start dimming the lights about one hour before bedtime to cue the body to slow down and get ready for sleep.
- Have a soothing bath and brush teeth.
- If you'd like, you can give your kid a little massage before putting on pajamas to relax him.
- If you have a toddler, invite him to pick out his own PJs and sleep pants, such as GoodNites® Underpants to wear to bed. They'll keep him dry all night and can be discreetly worn under pajamas so he feels like a "big kid" instead of a baby wearing diapers! Plus, giving your toddler choices will make him feel in control and less likely to revolt when it's time for light's out.
- Keep bedtime simple and quiet: no wrestling, roughhousing, tickle parties, etc.
- Then move to a quiet bonding activity like reading books or singing a soft song; this will help flip that switch in your child's brain from "alert" to "sleepy."
- Think about creating your own unique bedtime ritual that you can use for years to come: a special song, sharing two things you liked about your day, reading out loud, prayers, blessings or sending kisses and love to others.
- Promise to check on your kid before you go to bed (and do it!). Children love it when you tell them how cozy and peaceful they look when they sleep. They take it as a confirmation that you really are watching over them, that they are as safe and sound as you promised.
- Lights out! If your kid protests, you can blame lights off on the clock: "The clock says 8 pm, that means lights out and no more books." You can also use a clock radio or timer. If all else fails, blame it on The Sleep Lady!
As your child transitions from the hubbub of the day to the quiet of night, a bedtime routine not only establishes a sense of security that helps your kid settle down for peaceful slumber, but will create a connection with you that'll last throughout those precious childhood years, which, trust me, will fly by in the blink of an eye!
Kim West, a.k.a. The Sleep Lady