Sleep is vital to a child’s physical and mental development. But establishing a nighttime routine that works can be challenging, as every child is unique. However, there are proven approaches that can make a difference.
#1 Start by setting a specific time and be consistent with it
By following a consistent routine, your child’s biological clock will naturally adjust more quickly. Begin the routine 30 minutes to an hour prior to their anticipated sleep time, allowing them to unwind and prepare for bed. This gives your child plenty of time to de-stress, take a bath, brush their teeth, and get settled in bed.
#2 Emphasize the importance of tooth brushing before sleep
Introducing good oral hygiene habits early on can have a lasting impact on your child’s overall well-being. A clean mouth not only promotes dental health, but also helps improve sleep quality. Make tooth brushing a positive experience by using fun videos or songs as a motivator.
#3 Gently remind your child that it’s time for bed
Children have a hard time keeping track of time, so give them gentle warnings to signal that the day is winding down. Use simple phrases like “Ten more minutes” or “It’s time to brush your teeth when the big hand reaches the top of the clock.”
#4 Engage in calming activities to create a peaceful atmosphere
Avoid TV before bed since it can interfere with sleep. Instead, opt for reading, which promotes relaxation and education. Other calming activities include listening to soft music, talking about your child’s day, or giving them a warm bath.
#5 Limit or eliminate bottle feeding
If your child needs to bottle feed to fall asleep, make sure it’s only water. Explain the importance of oral hygiene and the negative effects of sugar found in juice and milk. Brushing immediately after consuming sugary beverages can cause enamel erosion.
#6 Introduce transitional objects for comfort
Comfort items like dolls, blankets, or teddy bears can make the separation at bedtime easier. These objects provide reassurance and a sense of control and security, helping your child stay asleep.
#7 Set the right atmosphere for quality sleep
Create a calm and quiet environment by keeping noise levels low and ensuring the room is dark. If your child is afraid of the dark, leave a light on in the hallway or use a nightlight or dim lamp.
#8 Keep goodnight kisses and hugs brief
While it may seem tough, this approach encourages your child to stay in bed and understand the importance of maintaining the routine. Children may try to test boundaries by crying out for attention, so it’s crucial to stay firm and only respond to emergencies.
Bedtime is the perfect time to teach your child about good oral and overall hygiene habits. This will have a positive impact on their health and well-being, and strengthen your bond with them.