How To Put an End To Bedtime Struggle
Is your child fighting bedtime? Are you dreading it everyday?
Bedtime with kids can be tough. It's exhausting and can be depressing for parents... but not to worry! Implementing the below steps, and being consistent, can soon get your evenings back. Importantly: don't give up!
Assess your child's bedroom
- It should be dark, quiet and tidy.
- The ideal temperature is between 16-20℃.
- There should be blackout blinds or curtains, so your little one doesn't get up with the first light.
- If the outside noise is preventing your child form falling asleep, they might like to listen to gentle music or white noise.
- Keep all screens out of their bedroom so they don't reach for them while struggling to fall asleep, or when they wake up in the middle of the night. Screens should also be turned off an hour before bedtime.
- Lie down in your child's bed. Is it comfy? Empty? Cold? Squeaky? Drafty? Children are often very sensitive to noises and touch. If you're using disposable or plastic bedding protectors, they might bother them.
- Consider changing the bed's position, for example so that your child can easily see the door.
Create a bedtime routine
Yes, you've heard this one before. But it really works... if you stick to it! It's important to remember that there is no golden bedtime routine and you'll know what works best for you and your family.
- Make a realistic routine. What time would you like your child to go to sleep? If your little one goes to bed late, try bringing the bedtime routine forward by 20 minutes every few days, until you reach your desired time.
- Make bedtime predictable and slowly transition to winding down time. Shouting 'bedtime' all of a sudden, at different times each day, won't work and will only be met with opposition.
- Give your child plenty of warning. If they are playing say that bedtime is in 30 minutes so they have time to prepare. You can even set a timer, so it's not you telling your child to stop playing 😉
- Help your little one relax. Try massage or reading.
- Dim the lights.
- Be quieter that you'd be in the middle of the day.
- Turn off all screens.
- Play some gentle, relaxing music.
- If your child likes to put up a fight, offer them a choice of two pyjamas, two stories and two teddies/blankets so they can pick one each. Giving them a sense of control will reduce chances of a tantrum.
- You can also practice relaxing breathing techniques.
- Read a book, tell a bedtime story, or listen to an audiobook together.
What if my child keeps getting out of bed at bedtime?
- Keep taking them back, and be as boring as possible.
- Don't raise your voice or get into long monologues. Simply: "it's bedtime now" will do.
- Don't give in to pleads for more stories, drinks or food. Your child will continue pushing their boundaries as long as you let them. This may be particularly difficult, and might take a few nights, but eventually your little one will get the message.
- If your child complains of hunger every single night and you're worried, offer them a healthy snack an hour before bed. Avoid heavy foods or overeating as this has a negative impact on sleep.
- If your child is scared of the dark, try using a nightlight.
Assess Day Time
- Try to keep wake-up time the same, every day. It might be tempting to let kids have a lie in on a weekend, but make sure you don't leave it too late or you're risking slipping back into bedtime struggles.
- Keep diet healthy and make sure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid drinks an hour before bed if your little one struggles with bedwetting.
- Regular exercise is an important part of a day time routine, but avoid trying to overtire your little one with a hope of them sleeping better as the effect is often the opposite.
- If your child is having day time naps, make sure they're not too late in the afternoon.
Why is it important that children get enough sleep?
Sleep is essential for your child's mental and physical development. Good sleep hygiene improves alertness, mood, vocabulary and concentration. Generally, your little one is happier and more willing to learn and cooperate after a proper night's rest.
If you're reading this, you've probably met a child that is grumpy, hyperactive and struggles to concentrate. Most of the time, all they need is a good bit of shut-eye.
How much sleep does my child need?
- Babies (4-12 months) - 12-16 hours, including naps
- Toddlers (1-2 years) - 11-14 hours, including naps
- Pre-school (3-5 years) - 10-13 hours, including a nap
- Children (6-12 years) - 9-12 hours
- Teenagers (13-18 years) - 8-10 hours
We hope this article will help you get some more sleep in your house. Is there anything we've missed that you feel also could help?
If you tried everything and your child is still having problems sleeping or is tired after a night's sleep, it's best to contact your GP for advice.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
source: NHS, Sleep Foundation