4 tips for a no-fuss bedtime routine.
Photo by cottonbro
Any parent knows how vital sleep is to a child’s well-being. It’s not just a case of reducing the potential for kids to be grumpy and fussy the next day. Their development, immune system, and overall happiness can suffer if they don’t get consistent and good-quality slumber.
However, kids themselves are often the primary hurdle to healthy sleep. Particularly with younger children, you may find the moments leading to bedtime are a regular battle. Your child might fight against the tyranny of being torn away from their play. While you’ll become frustrated and exhausted from constantly struggling to help your kid do what’s best for them.
Often, the key to overcoming these challenges is to implement a few effective tactics. We’ve put together 4 tips you can use for a no-fuss bedtime routine.
Ease into the transition
One of the problems many parents find at bedtime is in treating it as an immediate shift between playtime and sleeping. It’s understandable that this approach can become a part of the life of a busy parent. After all, you’re likely to have other tasks and responsibilities to take care of in the evening, too. Time can slip away, and before you know it, it’s time for your child to get some shut-eye.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an effective way to ensure your child settles into sleep without a fuss. They’re already stimulated from their play and hate to be dragged away from the fun. So, it’s worth developing a transition period that gradually winds them down and gently takes them toward the bedroom.
This can begin with interspersing parts of the bedtime routine with more fun elements. After a play session, plan for them to brush their teeth. Brushing before bed isn’t just essential for strong teeth and gums, but oral health can also prevent sleep disruptions. The presence of cavities, canker sores, and gum disease can cause pain that disturbs your child at the night. If your child is hesitant to brush, talk to them about how it will help them to sleep and gain the energy for the next day.
After brushing, you could settle down together with a book. This can then be followed by changing into pajamas, before moving into the bedroom to listen to some soothing music. This gradual approach to bedtime tends to be more positively impactful than an immediate change.
Offer controlled choices
When your child kicks up a fuss at bedtime, this may be because they are feeling forced to do something they don’t want to. Indeed, they likely want to do anything but go to the bedroom. It’s a mistake to follow these objections with a more dictatorial approach. You certainly want your child to know they have to go to bed, but it’s worth also affecting a compromise by offering them a little control over the situation.
This is where controlled choices come into effect. In the moments leading up to bedtime, start to offer your child options that both communicate the oncoming need for them to go to sleep but also that they’re involved with the process. For instance, you could ask them whether they want to spend 10 more minutes before bed playing with toys or 20 minutes reading a story together. You could also provide them choices of which bedtime music to play in their room to settle down with. Even choices of which pajamas they want to wear can be positive here.
The aim here is to make the run-up to bedtime less about conflict. You and your child aren’t arguing about whether or not they need to go to sleep. Rather, you’re collaborating on the details of the most pleasant bedtime routine for them. This tends to result in less stress and better sleep for both you and your child.
Communicate the value of sleep
Good quality sleep is essential for everyone. Sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health problems, including severe eyesight issues, mental health conditions, and decreased cognitive functioning. In some cases, poor sleep can exacerbate diabetes and even lead to weight gain. Having a no-fuss bedtime routine can help ensure your child and the rest of the family get the sleep you all need to stay well.
One way to achieve this is to ensure your child understands how sleep can help them. This doesn’t necessarily mean utilizing the details of the potential health issues that can arise if they don’t sleep. Depending on their age, this can scare them unnecessarily. Instead, it’s worth talking about sleep from the context of what they enjoy. If they like school, explain how sleep helps them retain information. For more active kids, discuss how sleep recharges them.
During the bedtime routine, it can be smart to come from the position of discussing what your child wants to do the next day. This gets them thinking about the activities they have to look forward to, while you explain how their sleep can help them have a better time. It’s not a case of suggesting they can’t do what they enjoy if they don’t go to sleep, as that just creates conflict. Rather, you’re framing their sleep as a resource for their fun.
Create an effective sleep environment
The surrounding components of your child’s sleep are vital for making certain they drift off and stay there until morning. It’s worth taking a little extra time and effort to turn your child’s bedroom into the ideal sleep environment. Rest assured, this doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming project.
If you’re already planning to redecorate, try to utilize softer colors. This doesn’t mean your child’s room needs to be beige but certainly, go for pastels rather than bright hues. This can reduce the potential for stimulating surroundings in a place they need to unwind. Installing lower lighting can also help them transition into a state in which they’re naturally ready to go to sleep. Try to avoid having a nightlight, as even a little light is known to disrupt sleep.
You should also consider how elements outside the room can impact your child’s sleeping environment. If you live on a busy street, close the windows to reduce traffic sounds. You might find it convenient to run your dishwasher at night, but if it has a fault resulting in noise, your child’s sleep might be disrupted. The good news is, that there are relatively simple steps to take to examine and repair a noisy dishwasher yourself. Some of the common noise causes are usually down to problems with the drain or damaged impeller fins. Taking care of this issue to reduce noise may be key to ensuring your child gets a full night’s rest.
Your child’s reluctance to go to bed can be instrumental in disrupting their sleep quality as well as being frustrating. Planning to implement a few useful techniques can help smooth the journey to bedtime. These could include easing your child toward the transition and offering them controlled choices about the routine. Making certain your child understands how sleep can help them and enhancing their sleeping environment also tends to produce positive results. It can take a little extra effort, but it can mean better sleep for your child and a more pleasant evening for you.