Parenting is not for the faint of heart. If you are in the thick of parenting young kids, you know all too well the effect a good or bad night's sleep can have on a child. Like adults, well-rested children are alert, content, and cheerful, while poor sleep can lead to irritability, crankiness, and an abundance of temper tantrums. That said, establishing good, healthy sleep habits while children are young will promote balanced sleep in their future adult lives. The best way to practice and maintain solid sleep schedules begins with a reliable and consistent routine at night. Not only will this remove the stress surrounding bedtime, but it can be a valuable opportunity to bond with your kids as well. If you are looking to establish a nighttime routine for your family, check out the tips below to make bedtime happier, healthier, and more enjoyable for everyone.
Develop a Routine
Kids thrive on routine. As much as they might try to fight it initially, regular, consistent schedules make children feel comfortable, calm, and secure.
Additionally, regular schedules train childrens' behavior and set realistic sleep expectations. Nightly bedtime routines help children learn to be tired when it is time to go to sleep. The structure also creates a positive association with a child's bedroom, creating a sense of security and comfort.
Without the stress of bedtime, this time of day can become a special time to read, chat, and bond with your children.
Pay Attention to Clothes and Temperature
Kids are finicky, fickle little creatures, and unless they are cozy and comfortable, sleep may never come. As a general rule, you should dress your children as you would dress yourself for bed, keeping in mind that most people sleep sounder when they are cool versus warm.
Babies are an exception to this rule. If they accidentally kick off their covers, they can't yet reposition them. That said, dress infants and newborns warmer than you may dress yourself, and consider using a swaddle blanket or sleep sack to ensure they remain covered throughout the night.
Identify a Transitional Object
Bedtime is challenging for young children because it signifies a lengthy separation from their parents. To soften the nerves surrounding this time apart, some children find comfort in a personal object. Items like stuffed animals, blankets, or pacifiers create a sense of security and safety in children, allowing them to feel comfortable when parents leave their bedroom.
You are undoubtedly familiar with the negative effect screen time has on the quality of adult sleep. Electronics of all kinds emit blue lights that can prevent an adult or child from getting a solid, healthy night's sleep. Remove all screens and devices from your childrens' rooms before bedtime, and eliminate the temptation to watch one more show or play one more game.
Do you fall asleep nightly at 8 p.m. while your friends can burn the midnight oil, functioning perfectly on 4 hours of sleep? Every individual requires a different amount of sleep. That said, it is essential to determine how much sleep each of your children needs to function happily and productively. Paying close attention to your kids' behaviors and keeping a log of their sleep patterns can help you establish how many hours each child needs to sleep per night.
Work As a Team
You and your partner must remain on the same page in terms of nightly routines. Discuss your proposed ritual ahead of time, and execute it together as a team. If one parent enforces the schedule and one does not, your children will have a hard time adapting, and a poor night's sleep may follow.
Children need consistency to learn and establish good behavior. Therefore, persistent and regular follow-through is essential in successful parenting.
Establishing a routine for your young children takes an incredible amount of work and perseverance. Luckily, once they become used to consistent, realistic schedules, your entire family will receive the rest they need to wake up every day feeling refreshed and restored.