Sleep is vital to a child’s physical and mental development.
Regardless of age, bedtime rituals and regular schedules are essential in helping us get the right amount of sleep in order for our body to be in tip-top shape.
This is particularly true with children.
Based on a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, younger children spend more time in slumber than awake.
Putting up too much of a fight prior to bedtime is common with toddlers who get easily distracted. The key is to establish and maintain good sleeping habits.
Setting a workable nighttime routine for children is not governed by determinate rules. Every child is unique. What works best for others may not work for your child. However, there are several approaches that have been proven effective in a majority of cases.
Set a specific time, and be consistent with it.
If the routine follows a consistent pattern, your child’s biological clock will naturally adjust more quickly to it. Begin the routine 30 minutes to an hour prior to the anticipated sleeping time. This gives your child plenty of time to de-stress, take a bath, brush their teeth, and get settled in bed.
Always inculcate the importance of tooth brushing before sleeping. It’s always a good idea to remove plaque from the teeth prior to settling for the night. Introducing good oral hygiene early in life have a lasting effect on the child’s overall well-being.
The taste and feel of a clean mouth will also help him or her sleep better. The idea is to take positive approaches to encourage them to view it as a fun and healthy experience. Showing your child dental health videos or songs can help with the positive association.
Give gentle reminders.
Generally, children are not adept time trackers. Prior to bedtime, let your child know that the day is winding down by giving gentle warnings like “Ten more minutes” or “It’s time to take a bath and brush your teeth when the big hand reaches the top of the clock.”
Initiate calming activities to set the mood.
TV-watching shouldn’t form part of your children’s nighttime ritual. Its visual stimulation leads to difficulty in falling and staying asleep. Reading is a better option. It encourages sleep and promotes education. Other soothing activities include:
- Listening to soft music
- Letting your children talk about their day
- Giving a warm bath
Offer your kids choices before bedtime.
Let your child decide on negotiable routines like what song to sing, which pajamas to wear, or what book to read. Offering choices to your kids can make them feel like they somewhat have authority over their bedtime rituals.
Limit or eliminate bottle feeding.
If it’s unavoidable for your child to bottle feed in order to fall asleep, ascertain that you only give him or her water. Should your child refuse this idea, make them understand that the mouth is not a sterile environment. If not removed, bacteria are allowed to mature undisturbed overnight. The sugar in juice and milk reacts with these bacteria, causing cavities and gum problems. Brushing immediately after drinking sugary beverages is not advisable as this can cause enamel erosion.
Introduce transitional objects.
Comfort items such as dolls, blankets, and teddy bears help make bedtime separation an easier endeavor. These transitional objects aid children in staying asleep by reassuring and comforting them, and giving them a sense of control and security.
Set the atmosphere right.
Make sure that the noise level is low and that the room is quiet and dark. If the child is afraid of the sinister feel of a dark room, slightly open the bedroom door, and leave the hallway light on. You can also opt for a nightlight or dim lamp.
Keep last kisses and hugs brief.
This may sound harsh, but this is a good way of letting kids know that once they’re in bed, they have to stay in it. Children are very inventive in parent conditioning.
They may think that if they’ll yell loud enough, you will come back and comfort them. Any slightest hint of uncertainty on your part may be perceived that you are not serious about maintaining the routine. Instead, advise to children to only call in case of an emergency.
Bedtimes are great opportunities for teaching kids cooperation and responsibility. It is also the right time to instill in their young minds the importance of good oral and overall hygiene habits and the benefits of getting the right amount of quality sleep. As you and your kid reap the real rewards of bonding together, sticking to the routine will have a positive impact on the health and wellness of the child.
To read more about parenting tips, visit Aha! Parenting here.