It’s the end of the night and your child just won’t settle down. They want to stay up and have fun until they drop from exhaustion, but you have work in the morning and need a good night’s rest and, really, they do as well. Here are five ways to ease your child into that restful time of night, making both of your lives better.
Keep a Routine
Perhaps the single most important thing for a child’s sleep is for them to have a relatively strict routine. They should go to bed the same time every night, do the same things every night before bed, and there shouldn’t be any alterations unless absolutely necessary. The same is also true for waking up.
Once this routine of waking up and falling asleep at the same time is established, your child’s natural rhythms will become established and they will be easier to maintain it if you are vigilant about keeping the timing right.
One example would be:
- 6:30 – Announce 30 minutes to getting ready for bed
- 7:00 – Bath or shower time
- 7:15 – Put pajamas on and brush teeth
- 7:30 – Reading time
- 8:00 – Lights out!
This schedule is only a suggestion and every family’s schedule will be different. The important thing is that the schedule is kept. There will be nights where you feel too tired to fight for it, but one day of the schedule being diverted from could lead to several nights of unrest.
Eat for Sleep
Food can play a vital role in helping your child fall asleep easily. It’s important that your child not be hungry or full when they go to bed as both can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. A healthy bedtime snack of bananas and oatmeal with peanut butter can help coax your child into a deep slumber with sleep-aiding properties such as potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan. Make sure to avoid problem foods such as candy or soda in the evening, because those will make it much harder to get your child to sleep.
Reading to your child has a plethora of benefits. It helps with brain development, reduces stress, and increases vocabulary. By reading your child their favorite stories before bed it can help them wind down for the night and gives you a specific end-time when the book, chapter, or section is finished. Plus, as your children get older and can start reading on their own, this benefit carries over, as reading is a great way to slow down your mind and prepare it for sleep.
Everyone had their favorite childhood stuffed animal, but did you know that these “security objects” can help a child sleep? The object, whether it’s a plushy or a blanket, can make your child feel ready for sleep due to its comforting nature. These objects give a child something to “love” in your absence once you’ve left the room for the night. It helps a lot with their ability to function independently.
Just like a stable routine, your child’s environment should be the same night to night. Make sure the room is cleared and there are no extra objects sitting around that could look strange in the dark for your child. The temperature in your child’s room should be cool, but not cold. If there are loud noises outside or you tend to stay up and make noise by talking or doing chores, white noise from a fan or noise machine can help block out the disturbances.
The final thing to consider if your child is having sleep issues are any underlying medical issues, many of which can be treated or mitigated. If you are keeping a routine but the problems with your child’s sleep still persist, contact Dr. Shukla to schedule an appointment.