Bedtime Battle Blues

Many parents have difficulty getting their child to bed. Sleeping can become a bitter battle. Here few tips and Hugo & Sons tells you on having a less stressful bedtime .

For many parents, the trials and tribulations of raising a child include a regular bedtime battle. It’s an incredibly frustrating and stressful experience for everyone involved and makes bedtime something that is a drawn out chore instead of a pleasant conclusion to an enjoyable day.

There tends to be agreement that a calming bedtime ritual is a must and regular deviation from the routine compounds the problems. The earlier in your child’s life that you establish a bedtime ritual, the easier it is on everyone involved and it gives them good habits for the future.

A good ritual should consist of:

  • A set bedtime – Make sure this is something that will work with your schedule and it is age appropriate for the child. Not going to be early enough can cause more problems than just a battle at bedtime. You also need to take into consideration when your child needs to get up for the day so you can at least give them the opportunity to get the right amount of sleep. During a 24 hour period (so including naps for up-to-5 year olds) a 0-2 month old should get 10.5 to 18 hours of sleep, 2-12 months should get 14 to 15 hours, 1-3 year olds need about 12 to 14 hours, 3-5 year olds should get 11 to 13 hours of sleep, and a 5-12 year old needs between 10 and 11 hours of sleep.
  • Snack – Depending upon what time you eat dinner vs. what time your children are hustled off to bed, you may want to consider offering them a light snack. A small snack before brushing teeth and going to bed can help settle them down and fall asleep. Just beware: if they figure out that they can skimp on dinner and get something they prefer before bed, they may do it.
  • Bathing – This can be the last “play time” they have before bed, so it gives them a little bit of time to wind down with a few toys. The warm water alone can chill them out, but there are plenty of lavender scented things that help the process along (just beware of skin sensitive kids). You may like to use this time to mentally prepare them for bed: talk about what pajamas they’d like to wear or what story they would like read to them.
  • Pajamas – Some children who have bedtime issues respond well to being able to pick out their own pajamas. It shows them that they have at least some say in things.
  • Quiet time – After the bath try to keep playing at a minimum (especially rough housing) and things generally quiet. It’s so tempting to tickle and play with clean little kiddos in their super cute jammie but children don’t really know when or how to calm down after being wound up by rough housing and tickling. You’re setting them up for failure if you expect them to stop when you say so and go right to bed. Make sure all people in the house are aware of this rule and don’t be afraid to ask guests to respect the rule as well.
  • Quiet Ritual – This should be the final step before actually saying good night. It can consist of reading a book, singing a quiet song, and tucking in. Talking with your child about their day may also help them unwind.

Other things to consider:

  • Do they have a favorite blankie and / or stuffed animal? Sometimes this is a good transition object for children and gives them comfort when they’re alone in their bed. It may be a good idea to restrict the item to sleeping only. This keeps the item from becoming a “security” item that is carried with him everywhere and keeps it as a cue for sleeping.
  • Are they able to get a drink if they need one? The classic “Mom I need a drink!” can disrupt everyone’s sleep and is incredibly frustrating! You may find it helpful to leave a sippy cup with water where your child can reach it. This is also useful if you’re trying to stop nighttime nursing.
  • Is there an actual problem? Some children have real problems sleeping. Be sure to rule out a medical or emotional issue if you continue to have problems with bedtime
  • Limit television. Research has shown that (and this goes for kids and adults) spending time in front of the t.v., computer, video game, etc. means bad news for falling asleep. It stimulates certain parts of the brain too much. Try cutting the t.v. off up to an hour before bedtime. Instead, spend the time reading, coloring, playing games or just being silly.
  • Try to avoid talking to your child once it is bed time, even if they need to be taken to the bathroom or some other interaction. If you do need to go into their room and remind them it’s time to sleep, do so very quietly and with as little noise, light and movement as possible. The more boring you can make nighttime, the better.

Bedtime can be a very trying time of day for parents, especially when you know your child really needs to get some rest and it can affect their health. Try to remain calm and give your child a week or two to become accustomed to a new routine. Don’t be surprised if life changes cause bedtime disruption as well. Talk to your child about the changes and give them a safe environment, they’ll fall asleep eventually.

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