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If there is one part of every parent’s day they wish could go smoothly, it’s bedtime. And if that’s a part of the day that isn’t going smoothly for you, here is some help! Start by putting these 5 bedtime basics into place and you’ll be bound to see a difference in bedtime in no time!
- Consistency: Pick a time for bed and stick to it. For example, at our house, my 3-year-old gets ready for bed at 7:00 every night. His bedtime is the same whether it is a weeknight or the weekend. Being consistent with bedtime keeps you and your child on the clock and knowing what to expect. Give your child a warning when bedtime is nearing–”Bedtime is in 20 minutes, so you will have to clean up your toys in 10 minutes.” Setting a consistent time for bedtime is the most important thing you can do to make bedtime run more smoothly in your house.
- Establish a routine: For some people a routine consists of the three B’s: Bath, Books, Bed. Other families don’t take baths right before bed or maybe have a different routine. You have to find what works for your family. A bath actually makes my son more wound up, so it doesn’t work as an unwinding part of a bedtime routine. Our routine consists of going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, getting a fresh cup of water and reading stories together. It’s the same thing every night (which ties right back into Bedtime Basics Tip 1: Consistency!)
- Set a time limit: When it comes to the routine part of getting ready for bed, sometimes it can drag on and on! Taking a bath, changing diapers/trying the potty, brushing teeth, reading stories, singing a song, rocking…the list can be endless. When your child is an infant and young toddler, you need to set a time limit for yourself–how long should the bedtime routine take? When your child becomes an older toddler and preschooler, they need to know the time limit–”You have 20 minutes to go potty, brush your teeth, change into pajamas and have stories read.” I literally have to set a timer some nights for my son because he will do everything in his willpower to make bedtime last forever! Don’t fall into this trap!
- Play soft music or white noise: White noise and music can help anyone of any age relax and fall asleep. Playing it while you read or after you leave the room will help your infant or child ease into sleep. Even as a preschooler, my son still enjoys falling asleep to music.
- Over tired? Is your child getting enough sleep? Infants and children who aren’t getting enough sleep often have a harder time going to sleep at night. My favorite website for explaining children’s sleep habits (including how much sleep they need broken down into very specific age ranges all the way through the school years and sleep tips for each age range) is Sleepforkids.org Check the website out and see if your child is getting enough sleep! Sometimes simply adjusting to an earlier bedtime will make the world of difference in a bedtime routine.