One of the best things you can do for a young child is have a bedtime routine. Studies have shown that well-rested children have fewer discipline issues and do better in school. Almost any age group can benefit from having a predictable and consistent routine. Having a good routine each night will help prepare the child both physically and mentally.
Where to begin?
Bath Time and Jammies. A bath before bedtime helps relax almost anyone, and warm pajamas help with the comfort level. This should be done about 2-3 hours before bedtime. Pajamas should fit well and not be too tight/too lose. They should also be appropriate for the temperature of the room. It’s hard for a child to sleep well if they are too cold or too hot.
Setting the Stage. About a half hour to an hour before bedtime, the noise and light level in the home should start to come down. This could be as simple as turning off overhead lights and turning on lamps instead. Also turning off noisy electronics, such a games or TVs, will help reduce auditory and visual stimulation. You are setting an atmosphere so your little one can slowly transition to bedtime.
A Good Book. Reading a book each night with your child is a great bonding experience that can also help create a love of reading from an early age. If you child is under two years old, you might consider reading the same book every night for a week at a time. This will help them get to know or even memorize the book. Older children may want to choose which book they would like to read with you. You might have a small section or basket in their room for bedtime books. These should be an appropriate length for their age and also have a good bedtime message. Bedtime is not the time to read books about monsters or exciting topics.
Light’s Out. Turning the lights out will help the release the extra melatonin needed for the body to sleep. This helps signal the brain that it’s time to rest. A small night light is fine as long as it’s away from the bed. Your last thing might be saying goodnight/a goodnight poem then giving a hug and kiss.
Refusing to sleep sometimes is very normal. Stick to your routine and reinforce verbally that it’s time to sleep if a child if fighting this. You may have to repeat this process several times, but with consistency your child will accept the routine and bedtime will be the relaxing experience it should be. Night, night.
By: Shani Snell