Do you battle every day to get your child to sleep? Do these battles end up with you getting exhausted and sleeping before your child does? Are you looking for easier bedtimes?
Your goal is to make your child sleep. You devise a strategy in your mind and get him to bed. However, whatever you try never seems to work. You scream, you pin him to the bed, you call in the army…but in vain. Nothing seems to work! Your child’s boundless energy and refusal to sleep compromises your daily mission.
The fact that we all need sleep is understood. Children need it the most as adequate sleep is essential for their growth and development. Toddlers are said to require about 12-14 hours of sleep every night. By pre-school, they need about 11-13 hours. Once they are older, children will need about 10-11 hours of sleep. However, these days, children have a lot of sleep disorders due to various aspects like illness, improper intake of food as well as psychological factors.
So how do we get our children to sleep without having to put in so much effort? Here are some of our favorite tips:
10 Sleep-Inducing Activities for Easier Bedtimes
- Playing Soft Music: This is a short-term solution, yet used widely by most mothers. Playing soft music in the background can help him drift into sleep effortlessly. The calming music will help induce dreams and make your child fall asleep. Lullabies are also fine, because the child may best respond to your voice. However, a music box or a CD of your kids’ favorite tunes will work equally well. The only thing to remember is not to make this a daily routine where your child will only sleep if he has music!!
- Building Trust: A reason many children do not go to sleep is the fear that their parents aren’t going to be around. While trying to put him to bed, slowly say that you’re going to run an errand like wash dishes or feed the dog, etc. Promise him that you would be right back. Remember to keep that promise so that he knows that he can trust you. Then, repeat the same after a few moments. Leave for a longer duration this time. Do this for the next few days and make sure that the period you leave becomes even longer. Gradually, in one of those waiting sessions your child will fall asleep without you there.
- Read stories: The good old-fashioned book reading technique works wonders with toddlers. Just make sure you have the right book, and you keep the toddler interested to listen to your story. Make sure your child is tucked in and comfortable before reading the story. Slowly as you read on, your child’s concentration levels begin to lessen and sleep starts to take over. Make sure your child doesn’t use any gadgets, watch TV or use a computer before sleeping as these can affect his chances of gaining a sound sleep.
- Drink Warm Milk: The traditional strategy of drinking a glass of warm milk before bed can help your child fall asleep. Milk products are rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan, which induces sleep by increasing the levels of serotonin and melatonin in the brain. The effect is also psychological for your child as your toddler might just get reminded of memories when he was an infant and was fed and held in your comfortable arms. The warmth of the milk can also make the child sleepy. Just make sure that your child brushes his teeth to avoid cavities from forming.
- Provide a comfy room: Every child’s room should be a comfortable space to be in. It should bring happiness and relaxation each time your child goes in. Set your child’s room temperature at a comfortable, soothing level. For a good night’s sleep, make sure the room is dark enough for your child to fall asleep. Check if the clothes and blankets do not restrict movement while lying down. Keeping a table lamp handy would be ideal in case he is afraid to sleep in complete darkness. Give advance notice about the child’s approaching bedtime, which can keep his mind ready for a rest.
- Brain Muscle relaxation: This helps for older children who have a tough time trying to sleep. Ask them to apply a brain relaxation technique. From the toes to the head, ask your child to tighten and then relax every muscle group from the bottom up. Make them repeat out loud after you, “let your toes relax, and then your ankles and now your calves.” Make them do these relaxation exercises all the way up to your scalp.
- Play Five Things: Ask your child to play the game ‘five things’ with you. This simple game just needs your child to name five things they can see, five things they can hear, five things they can feel and you can continue on and on. You could also use a book or any other material to make the game more interesting. Before you know it, your child will be so tired, that his eyes will shut midway through the game!
- Reduce After School Activity: One of the chief reasons for your child not able to sleep properly could be his/her participation in too many after-school activities. They would be overburdened with work, pushing back dinner, study time and eventually bed time. It is important only to make your child do what he/she can handle. Plan play-time with more stress-free sports like running and jumping. Keep this time scheduled for a fixed duration and ensure that your child doesn’t drain out all his/her energy by exerting too much. This way, when the time for bed arrives, your child will feel sleepy automatically.
- Set up a Reward System: Kids love to be appreciated by their parents. A good way to make sure they sleep on time is to set up a reward system, where you can gift your child a sticker or a star for each night she goes to bed on time. As she collects a particular number of stars or stickers, you can get her a bigger prize. This will motivate and provide incentive for the child to keep the sleep schedule at all times.
- Give them protection tools: Children sometimes feel afraid of “the monster under the bed” or the spooky shadows on the wall. Provide him with tools that help him feel safe in bed. A flashlight, a stuffed animal like a teddy bear, an “anti-monster spray”, etc. are some examples of tools you could arm him with. He will feel more protected this way and won’t feel worried. Assure them that you are just a call away, and the table lamp is close by just in case he needs it.
Getting your child to sleep can be quite worrisome for some parents. With patience and the careful following of the above techniques, you are sure to get your child slipping into a healthy sleep routine in quick time!
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This post was written by Aradhana exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC