From wanting to stay up and play to needing to kiss the dog goodnight one more time, it’s a rare day that children go to bed without making a song and dance about it – sometimes literally.
Especially after all the excitement of Christmas, it’s hard to get your children back into a routine. But it’s important that they get enough sleep to avoid being tired and irritable the next day – and that’s just you!
Take heed of these tips, though, and you’ll run their bedtime routine like a well-oiled machine that will take them all the way to Sleepy Town…
1. Stick to the same bedtime every night
Children need routine; if you let them stay up late one night and then try to put them to bed at 8pm the next, you’ll struggle to get them to sleep.
Children need 10-11 hours’ sleep every night, so consider what time they wake up, calculate a suitable bedtime for them, and stick to it.
This also means they need to wake up at the same time every day – yes, even on the weekends! If you let them sleep in, it will throw the whole routine off and they won’t want to go to bed on time that evening.
If you can’t resist a lie-in, take turns with your partner; so they get up with the little ones on Saturday and you get up with them on Sunday, for example.
2. Turn the TV off
Children need to start winding down before bedtime, and stimuli, such as the TV or computer, will achieve quite the opposite.
Switch off any gadgets two hours before bedtime, and if they have one in their room, make sure it’s not on standby as even the little red light is enough to make the brain believe it is still light, and therefore not time for sleep.
3. Have a consistent routine
Go through the same process every night so your child understands bedtime is nearing and – in a Pavlovian sense – will begin to feel sleepy.
Try these steps for sleep-time success:
- After a warm bath, wrap them in a fluffy towel and give them a mini-massage with a soothing lotion.
- Once dry, dress them in their pyjamas. Give them a few sips of water, help them clean their teeth and encourage them to go to the toilet before bed.
- Tuck them in, keep the lights dim and read them a bedtime story.
- Say goodnight and leave the room before they are sound asleep, otherwise they’ll associate sleep with you leaving. They need to learn to lull themselves off, but you can help them get there.
4. Make sure they’re comfortable
Their bedroom should be a cosy and comfy haven. Make sure the room’s not too hot as body temperatures rise as we sleep. Also wash their bedding using Fairy Non-Bio Pods to make sure it’s super soft and gentle on sensitive skin, so they don’t get irritated in the night.
5. Protect them from their fears
If your little one is scared of the “monster under the bed”, or the dark shadows, don’t just write them off as silly. Remember they have vivid imaginations, so leave on a soft night light that warns off the bogeyman, tuck them in with a teddy who knows kung-fu, or spritz the room with “monster spray” to keep them away. Plus the latter can be an air freshener with a lavender fragrance, so it doubles up as a scented sleep aid.
6. If they wake up, put them straight back to bed
Young children will likely get up several times before properly settling in for the night. If they have a genuine demand, like being thirsty or needing the toilet, heed to it the first few times – although of course you will know it’s a ruse if they’ve already had some water and used the toilet.
The important thing is not to re-engage with them. Stay quiet, calm and lead them back to bed. Don’t cuddle, play or stay too long. Say goodnight and leave them to get back to sleep on their own.
Each time they call for you, leave it a little longer until you respond. They need to know you are not at their beck and call, and it’s in their best interests to just sleep.
Do you have any tips for getting your child to bed on time? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below.