12 Tips for Helping Your Child Sleep Better
Kids’ body clocks do not always coincide with adults’, which can cause problems for parents. It is important for you to help make sure that your child sleeps enough, and sleeps well. Children who do not sleep enough might show it in their behavior or even struggle at school. Finding the routine that fits well for your family is very important, because each child is different. If your dream is for your kids to go to bed earlier and sleep well, try to follow these tips.
1. Do not feed your kid heavy meals just before it’s time to go to sleep. Try to have dinner a few hours before bedtime, and do not give her any products containing caffeine less than seven hours before you want her to fall asleep. Young children are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than adults are, and it is best to avoid giving caffeine to children at all, if possible.
2. Give your child a warning five minutes before bedtime.
3. Try to organize a bedtime routine that is relaxing and lasts 20-30 minutes; it should end in your kid’s bedroom. It would be helpful to read a familiar, comforting book, instead of watching TV or listening to a scary story.
4. Try not to sing or rock your kid until she falls asleep. She might wake up in the middle of the night and need that same routine. Instead, if your child finds it comforting, sing and hold her for one song, then try to persuade her fall asleep on her own while hugging a favorite stuffed toy.
5. Make sure the temperature in your child’s bedroom is comfortable, not too cold or too hot.
6. If your kid calls you as soon as you have put her to bed, wait a few seconds before responding to remind her that she should be sleeping. It is very likely that she will fall asleep again while waiting for you. If she comes out of her bedroom after you have already put her to bed, you should walk her back and gently remind her that it is bedtime.
7. If your kid has worries, give her something to overcome them, for example a big stuffed toy to protect her, or a flashlight.
8. It could be very useful to create a reward system; your child can get prizes after each time she goes to bed on time and doesn’t leave her room all night long.
9. Try to make your sleep a family priority: set a regular bedtime and wake-up time for the whole family, and make sure to follow it even on weekends.
10. Try to notice special sleep troubles, such as waking up often at night, snoring, resisting going to bed, or heavy breathing during sleep. The problems might appear during the day as well. Your child might behave as though they are tired during the day, even if you know they have gotten a full night’s sleep. In this case, you should consult your doctor.
11. Always act as a team with your spouse. Discuss your routine in advance and follow it together.
12. Children like asking for one last thing before falling asleep: a kiss or hug, a drink of water or milk, or needing to use the bathroom. Explain to your child that once she is in bed, she must stay in bed and be ready to fall asleep. If you consistently reinforce this expectation by allowing your child to get all of her “one last things” done before beginning the bedtime routine, this will eventually become the new habit. You will need to be patient, but eventually your child will be able to fall asleep easily all on her own.