Bedtime challenges differ from family to family. Households with large families and varying sleep schedules can make it hard to get younger children into a routine. It’s tough to be told to go to sleep when there is still so much going on in the house. One way to combat this is to create a bedtime routine that works for the entire family! After dinner and perhaps a few minutes of play time, start to prepare the house for bedtime by lowering or turning off music or the TV and dimming the lights. This will signal that it’s time to bring all the activities to a close and implement the 4 B’s:
- Set a bath and keep it mellow and relaxed. Baths are a decisive way of separating the day’s activities from sleeping time.
- Help them brush their teeth or gently clean babies’ gums. For toddlers, they should brush for about 2 minutes so a short mellow song makes it more fun while getting the job done.
- After they are in PJ’s and snuggled in bed, take a few minutes to read them a book. It’s relaxing, bonding and helps them become lifelong readers. (It also acts as a suitable breast/bottle stand-in for the little ones)
- Once their book is done, it’s time for sleep. Some munchkins will fall right off to La La Land, while it’s not as easy for others. Keeping your voice calm and low, try to get them to drift off on their own. It might mean they negotiate another few pages, but eventually, they will learn to fall asleep on their own.
Setting the stage so that bathing, brushing, and books signal bedtime help your child to set lifelong habits for good sleep hygiene.