I think it would be fair to say that sleeping problems send more parents in search of advice than most other childcare issues. Families face evening battlegrounds of difficulties at bedtime that can potentially cause a lot of stress for everyone. From your baby crying on and off all night to your toddler who thinks it’s fun to stall bedtime until mid-night, to your pre-nursery schooler who creeps into your bed in the early hours before sunrise, do you remember the last time you were able to peacefully sleep through the night?
It would seem that a good night’s sleep has become number one on the ‘luxury wish list’ for parents with small children. The good news is this luxury is available to us all. Even the worse sleeping problems can be turned around in a surprisingly short time with your little ones. As with any tips and advice, you have to be committed and show the willpower to stick with it, even when you are tired or in the middle of sleep, because that is when it is the easiest to let things slip.
Remember: your kids need you to teach them because when everyone gets a good night’s sleep it makes for a happier healthier family.
1. Keep it Calm: This is not the time for a noisy cartoon, computer games or wild playtime. Overstimulated children can’t just switch off. Winding down is important.
2. Be Clear: Use verbal indication that the bedtime routine has begun. This makes it easier for your child to adapt to the next stage of their routine.
3. Bubble Time: Warm water truly does aid in relaxation. It is also a good time to release that last little bit of energy. Let your child know when the bath is about to begin and let them know before it finishes.
4. Get Involved: Enlist the child’s cooperation over the simplest of tasks. Preface it with things like “It’s time to put the toys away” and “Let’s pull the plug out…brilliant!”
5. Praise: It’s good to let your child know when each stage has been completed smoothly. “Everything is put away! Perfect!”
6. Small Talk: Read those bedtime stories, one or two from a small selection of his/her choice. Your little ones will go through phases, so don’t be surprised if you read the same book tomorrow! A little reassuring chit-chat goes a long way in catching up with what your toddler has processed throughout the day
7. Sleep Toys: Comforters or soft sleeping partners all help ease the separation of bedtime. A few at the bottom of the cot won’t hurt either, in case they wake up early and want to play.
8. Old Habits: Don’t wait around until your child falls asleep. If you have had an active day and you have done the bedtime routine step-by-step, you all should be feeling fairly sleepy by now.
9. No Shortcuts: Don’t rush the routine! Your little nippers do notice when they are being rushed and you will lose their focus and cooperation.
10. Same Page: If you are taking turns with your partner to put your children to bed, make sure you follow the same routine so you can both be consistent. It makes for a smoother transition from day to night.
Copywritten by Jo Frost