How do you get your young children to sleep at night?
Many parents often struggle to put their young children (under age 2) to sleep at night. I'm currently gathering tips and suggestions in this area, and I wonder what parents have done and said to ease the bedtime transition for their little ones. Ideas?
The community and experts appear to agree that consistency is crucial for an effective bedtime ritual. The NYU Child Study Center http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Making_Bedtime/ has also suggested that parents use behavioral approaches, such as positive reinforcement (e.g., stickers, small prizes) to encourage children to stay in bed once they are tucked in for the night.
I've observed my sister painstakingly create a calm and tranquil pre-bedtime atmosphere for her kids, which is often shattered by her husband, who comes home from work ready to play "chase," "monster," and other high-energy games not suited for evening play. Though it seems obvious, t's important that both parents are on the same page around bedtime, so that the efforts of one are not ruined by the other.
Yes! creating a calming bedtime ritual is important, but seems to be a huge challenge. Life can easily get in the way. Ah, but taking the time to create consistent structure in the home, whether it is around bedtime, dinner meals, etc, makes such a difference. A friend emailed me and suggested the importance of helping your child learn to soothe themselves and fall asleep on their own. Seems that there are differing opinions on whether to go "cold turkey" and have them cry it out or check back on scheduled intervals. What have folks found to be most effective?
I agree about the consistency at bedtime. With my daughter, we have a process we follow before bed. She's almost 4 years old now and it seems to work. Five minute warning after watching one of her kids tv shows, then off to brush teeth. I help her get into her PJ's (unless she wants to do it herself). Then I choose three books, she picks one and I read it to her. Next she say's her prayer and I sing her "Hush Little Baby" (her fave since an infant) tuck her in and say goodnight.
One thing with her is as long as the above is consistent, varying her bedtime once in a while (later) doesn't have a negative effect on her.
My son is 4 and is starting to really stall before bed. I find that being consistent really helps, even though it sometimes feels a bit harsh. It's "always 3 stories", "always one song", "always one big hug and kiss", otherwise, there's always a reason to stall. Seems to work for us.
As an experienced mother (and now, grandmother!) I can recommend a long, calm, and gentle ritual for bedtime. The posts above have it about right. If there's any TV watching, keep it as far away from bedtime as possible (this is possibly another discussion!) as the media images can compromise the child's own inner pictures and imagination. A great transition is a calming bath, with lavender oil, and maybe even candlelight. Gentle rubbing with a warm towel (heated in the dryer is great) and a climb into warm PJs also add to the calming.<br/>The bedroom should be tidy as clutter - pervasive in any family home - works against the calm, quiet mood of bedtime. We would light a candle for storytime. My children all loved long stories, that continued from evening to evening. I found that if I slowed my voice down, and sang the final goodnight song quietly and slowly, that the child was nearly asleep before I left the room! <br/> Good luck!<br />
Easy. I have a seven year old who is very well trained now. As a baby to get her to sleep warm milk baths and stories before bed time.Same time everyday 8 no matter where we are no matter how she reacts or acts up. now at 7 when 8 comes around her body is already trained to wind down and shes already prepared.
i have put many young siblings to sleep and yes, it may be rediculas, but it works. all you have to do is this: first try reading them a bed-time story, second try rocking them to sleep, third put a story on tape on, fourth try making peacful noises, fifth try counting backward from 100. if all fails sorry
Believe it or Mozart and rocking before age 3. I used this with my daughter. Routine is really important. Make sure the child in not getting sweets and sodas. Designate a bed time and have story time as a part of your routine.
Have you heard of Scheherazade and 1001 Arabian Nights? This tale represents a woman named Scheherazade who weaves a tale every night until the king falls asleep, leaving the crux of the story for the next night. Children love to hear stories, and will definitely go to sleep if you promise them the ending the next night. Also, a storytelling pattern at night lends to consistency and routine necessary for child development. Not only are you setting a pattern with reading, but you are setting aside mommy and me time, in addition to helping your child sleep.
I hope this helps,
One or two mists of magical "Sleepy Spray" (water with drop of lavender essence) before each nap or sleep works wonders.
Also, great answers above to your question about children under 2. I would just add the following, for older children as well:
1. TRANSITION: start with at least 10 minutes of wind-down before starting the bedtime process. Explain to the child that this is quiet play time before readying for bed. This reserves an appropriate place to get out any last bit of radical energy. Consider setting a timer, so there are no surprises or issues around when the time is up.
2. RITUAL: Have a ritual that they help choose that is repeated nearly every night. Great posts already about 2-under rituals. For older kids, perhaps potty (self) > pajamas (self) > teeth cleaning > parent reads couple books she chooses > parent tells short made-up-on-the-fly story as she keep eyes closed or sing a sleepy song as she keeps eyes closed. Sleep. In all it takes just 20-30 minutes. And some of the closest, most important minutes of the day.
3. ADAPT: what used to work, might not any more. Just encourage the child to have an active role in the decision.
When my sons were younger, one of them got very concerned about bad dreams, and didn't want to fall asleep. Lucky for us, he had a stuffed toy Batman. Now everyone knows that nobody, even a bad dream, could get past Batman! Every night my son sat Batman up by his door, to guard the room from bad dreams, and every morning he laid Batman down to sleep during the day. Batman certainly helped us get him to sleep!
I have to agree with the advice to have a calming routine too. While we outgrew Batman, we still have a routine - and my kids are 12 and 15! Every night when their dad and I tuck them in, the boys tell us 3 happy things about their day, so the last thing they talk about each night is something they enjoyed. They are left with happy thoughts, and we have a special insight into what their day included - this is one of my favorite times of day as a mom!