As much as we love our little ones, we all know they can be a bit of a nightmare come bedtime. Most parents know the struggle we’re referring to. Some children love kicking up a fuss when it comes time to go to sleep. There are a number of reasons for this: some children don’t like sleeping on their own, others simply don’t want playtime to end. No matter what applies, to avoid the tears that often come at bedtime, read on to discover ten steps you should take…
Make sure they get enough exercise and fresh air throughout the day
The first thing you need to do is make sure your child gets enough exercise and fresh air throughout the day. The bedtime process actually begins from the moment your child wakes up! If your child has not had much movement or fresh air, they are going to have lots of pent up energy that they have not used yet. So, when the time comes to go to sleep, they are going to find it impossible to drift off, and you may find that they end up being more hyper than they have been all day long. Instead, if you tire your children out throughout the day, they will be tired when it comes to bedtime, and they will sleep much more soundly too.
Set up a comfortable and tempting bed
The second step to take when avoiding tears at bedtime is to make sure that your child’s bed is cosy and comfortable. If it isn’t, your child may end up waking up in the night more frequently. You don’t only need to make sure that the bed itself is comfortable, but you need to focus on other elements in the room too. For example, investing in room-darkening shades is a good idea; ensuring light does not come into the room and wake your toddler up. You may even want to consider a ‘white noise’ machine if all else fails, ensuring your child’s room is as comfortable as possible.
Lie down with your little one
A lot of toddlers will fall asleep with greater ease if you lie down with them. They feel comforted, and they are less likely to cry if you are there in bed with them while they head to the land of Nod. Nevertheless, there are some parents that don’t let doing this because they fall asleep themselves, and so they end up wasting their evening. This is understandable, and it is completely up to you whether you want to lie down with your child or not, but it is certainly an option that is worth considering.
Give your child a teddy bear or something else for comfort
A lot of toddlers have more trouble sleeping than others because they are not able to soothe themselves into sleep. This is especially the case if they wake up in the middle of the night and they are on their own, or if they are upset. They seek their comfort elsewhere, and this is why they will come and find you and the tears often follow suit. To combat this, you should consider giving your child a teddy bear or any other type of special transitional object that they can go to bed with. They will then use this object to provide them with comfort. If they wake up in the middle of the night, they can cuddle their teddy bear and it will make them feel better and they will be able to soothe themselves back to sleep rather than waking you up.
Turn off all electronics an hour or two before bed
Does your child fall asleep watching their favourite television programme? This is never a good approach to bedtime. Research has proven that light from a computer monitor, phone, or television screen can interfere with melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a critical role in a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Most people are ready for bed and sleepy when melatonin levels are at their highest. Therefore, if someone watches televisions or looks at any other type of technology before they go to bed, it can disrupt their state of mind, meaning they are awake for longer. The best way to combat this is by making certain that all screens are completely dark before bedtime and that your child’s room is a tech free zone.
Don’t leave it too late to start the wind-down process
Are you starting the winding down process too late? If so, this could be where the problems lie. If your toddler has been racing around for hours, they aren’t going to be able to simply switch gears and transition into sleep time. A typical routine may be to have dinner, then to give your toddler a bath, read them a story, give them a kiss, and then tuck them into bed. Of course, you don’t have to follow this routine; you can adapt it to suit your family. However, be mindful of going for anything that is too elaborate, as such routines only have a tendency to get bigger and bigger over time. The whole point is to create a sense of predictability, safe, and calm. If your toddler is demonstrating oppositional behaviour to your routine, the best thing to do is have the clock dictate, rather than having you dictate. Therefore, instead of saying it is time for bed now, you can say, look it is 7.00 pm, if we go and brush your teeth now, we can get time for two stories tonight rather than just one. This makes it appear like you are on your child’s side – you are not against them. It also helps your child make smart choices because they are learning all about responsibility and how their actions influence the options they have available to them.
Get into the same routine every evening
It is also important to make sure you get into the same routine every evening and that your child goes to sleep around the same time every night. You need to get their body clock in order.
Give your little one a bedtime snack
A lot of toddlers require a bedtime snack, which is especially the case if they are going through a growth spurt. Those something that is predictable and calming, for example, a slice of toast with peanut butter and warm milk. Don’t go for anything with sugar in it. You can move efficiently into the bedtime routine if you read your child a bedtime story while they eat their snack at a table in their room. They can then brush their teeth and go to bed.
Get the temperature right
Another key element that plays an important role in creating the perfect environment for sleep is temperature. You do not only need to make sure that the bedroom is dark, but it needs to be cool too. If your child is too stuffy and hot, they will struggle to get a good night’s sleep. You can promote a deep sleep if the room is typical room temperature or a little bit cooler. This comes back to the all-important melatonin again. Melatonin will regulate your child’s internal body temperature, ensuring it drops to the level that is required to sleep. However, only you can control the external temperature in the room.
Protect them from their fears
Last but not least, a lot of children do not like going to bed because they are scared. Therefore, if you make them comfortable and protect them from their fears, you can avoid tears before bedtime. This is something that parents can relate to as well. After all, we have all been there – when we cannot shut off because of anxiety. Children experience the same sort of thing, although their fears may be different. They may be scared of monsters or ghosts, for example. Don’t simply dismiss these fears; you need to address them. You could use ‘monster spray’ before bed, for example.
Hopefully, the advice that has been provided will help you to get your little one off to sleep without tears and tantrums at bedtime. The key to this is to be patient, which can, of course, be very difficult. However, it is unlikely your child is going to change his or her bedtime habits overnight, so you do need to persist with the steps that have been presented and you should have good results in the end.