Getting children to sleep can be a challenge and a half. If they don’t want to get in your bed instead of their own, they want to come downstairs and watch telly with you, they want a packet of crisps; they want to do anything other than go to sleep! This can make them tired and irritable the next day, not to mention wear you out when you’re supposed to be relaxing after a long day of cleaning up after them and cooking them dinner! If this is a problem you often face or fear you might face in the future, here’s how you can get your children to sleep:
Avoid Big Meals Before Bed
This is something you can apply to yourself, too. You should always avoid giving your child large meals before bedtime, as this will stimulate them and give them more energy. Caffeine should also be avoided less than 6 hours before bedtime or they could bounce off the walls!
Give Your Child A Choice
You should always warn your child when bedtime is nearing. You can either say “bedtime is in 5 minutes”, or say “do you want to go to bed now or in 5 minutes?”. Only ask them the question once – and then in 5 minutes take them to bed as agreed.
Make A Routine
You should try to make a relaxing and consistent bedtime routine that lasts 20-30 minutes and ends up in your child’s bedroom. You should always avoid scary stories or TV shows before bed or you might find them climbing in with you after a while! Give your child a choice of favourite books for you to read to them – new stories are unfamiliar and could stimulate them too much.
Avoid Rocking Or Singing To Sleep
Avoid rocking your child to sleep or singing to them – if they wake up in the middle of the night (which they more than likely will) you may have to get out of bed and do it all again. This is actually a condition called sleep-onset association disorder. Don’t panic if you’ve been doing this already – you’ll just have to vigilant and phase it out gradually. Instead, you could give your child a stuffed teddy bear or their favourite blanket to sleep with.
Make Sure Your Child Is Comfy
Clothes and blankets should not restrict your child’s movement, and the temperature shouldn’t be too warm or too cold.
Wait A Minute Before Responding
If you’ve left the room and your child decides to call you, don’t rush back in. Wait a few moments to remind them that they’re supposed to be sleeping, and they may even fall back to sleep while waiting for you.
Walk Them Back To Bed
If your child gets out of their stompa bed after you’ve put them to bed, gently remind them that it’s bedtime and take them straight back to bed. You shouldn’t say anything other than it’s bedtime and wish them good night as you leave the room – like Supernanny Jo Frost recommends. If they continue to do this don’t say a word to them as you take them straight back to their bedroom, and they’ll soon get tired.
Follow these tips to ensure your child enjoys a good nights sleep!