At some point, every parent will face the challenge of a child who won’t settle to sleep. Whether it’s a fear of monsters or the dark, or the sudden need for a drink, hug, story, chat (or any of the other million-and-one reasons a child can think of to stay up a little later!), getting them to settle down is made easier by a good bedtime routine.
When children sleep better, you sleep better and when everyone is properly rested, the household is a more harmonious one, so if you’re struggling to get your kids into a bedtime routine, try some of the following tips:
Kids of any age can become easily excitable and distracted so give them time to relax and get ready for sleep with some wind-down time. Depending on the age of your child, this might mean:
- Swapping any screen-based entertainments like cartoons or games consoles for quiet, focussed activities like puzzles and board games at least an hour before bed.
- Taking time to organise school bags or clothes for the next day.
- Having a bath with lightly scented, relaxing and soothing bubble bath.
- Eating a light supper. Peanut butter on toast, porridge and bananas will fill tummies without giving them bursts of energy that disrupt good sleeping habits.
Having wind-down time helps your child understand that bedtime is approaching so when it arrives, they are mentally and emotionally prepared for it.
Hunger pangs, thirst, an itchy label in a particular pair of pyjamas – you name it, a child will use it as an excuse for a precious few minutes extra at bedtime, but you can limit this by pre-empting their requests.
If they always ask for a drink, give them a non-spill cup or bottle to have throughout the night. If they always want you to check inside the wardrobe or beneath the bed for monsters, take them up five minutes earlier to allow time for this.
Create a Relaxing Environment
Half the battle with getting kids to bed is making their bedroom appealing yet relaxing to be in. Kids have a hard time resisting temptation so if their room is cluttered with easy-reach toys, it’s time to tidy them away. Plastic storage boxes that stack or slide under beds are ideal.
If your little one is scared of the dark or anxious about being alone and refuses to have the door closed (but has the tendency to tip-toe downstairs and silently appear, frightening the wits out of you!) try temporarily putting a baby gate in their doorway until they feel more confident at night. If they’re capable of climbing over a baby-gate, bedside lamps can be comforting when placed next to your little ones bed instead.
Give Your Child Some Control
Before changing anything in your child’s bedroom or sleep routine, talk to them about it first and let them contribute ideas.
By encouraging them to have a say in their bedtime routine, they’re more likely to participate willingly in it. Let them choose some new bedding or a lamp, select the stories you’ll read them and which pyjamas they’ll wear.
There are no one-size-fits-all routines that guarantee kids will settle down at bedtime so be patient. These exhausting days will pass and until they do, accept that sometimes, all you can do is submit to their outlandish demands and simply crawl into their beds to enjoy the blissful hugs you both need every now and then.
Then maybe have a bar of chocolate!
Making your child’s bedroom sleep-friendly on a budget is easy with B&M. They stock a huge selection of bedding, lamps and storage items. They even do a decent range of milk, dark or white…