If you are a parent, then you are more than familiar with the nightly challenges of getting your kids to go to bed and hopefully stay there. It is not easy! All moms go through this and even celebrity mothers have to reach out for advice. Recently, singer Tank’s girlfriend, Zena Foster, took to Instagram asking for advice to help her get their two-year-old to sleep.
When children don’t get enough sleep, they are irritable, hyper, have behavior problems, they have trouble paying attention and learning in school, and they tend to be overweight. So, needless to say, getting the proper amount of Z’s is beyond important. Regular bedtime schedules play a big role in proper childhood development.
Here are some tips to help you get started and hopefully help nail down bedtime for everyone.
- Establish a routine. All children need, want, and thrive on routine. Establishing a night time routine from the beginning is imperative for proper sleep patterns. Help small children learn when they are sleepy: read them a bedtime story, give them a small bedtime snack, put on pajamas, brush teeth, etc. Let them know that these are the things to do before going to bed. Keep the routine short, no more than :30 minutes, and be firm about the end, signaling lights out!
- Know your child’s sleep pattern. Knowing if your child is an early riser or night owl will help you to establish an appropriate bedtime for them. Studies show that school-aged children need between 9-12 hours of sleep each night. So, as the age-old adage says, “early to rise, early to bed.” If you have a night owl, the body won’t fall asleep until it is ready; therefore, set an appropriate time to make sure that they get the right amount of sleep.
- Reduce nighttime stress. Studies show that when cortisol, the “stress hormone,” levels are high, your child’s body won’t be able to properly shut down and go to sleep. Keep the nighttime environment and activities calm and peaceful and your child’s system will lull itself to bed.
- Set appropriate sleep environment. Make sure that the bedroom environment is set for sleep. Rooms should be dark, quiet, cool but not cold, and your child’s pj’s should be thick enough to keep them warm if they kick off the covers but light enough to help keep their body temperatures regulated. If they don’t like the dark, make sure to leave the hall light on or invest in a night light.
- Provide smaller children with a security object. For smaller children, bedtime increases separation anxiety. Make sure that your little one has a personal object—a doll, blanket, teddy bear, or even the family puppy—to take to bed with them. These things will help comfort and reassure your child allowing both them and you to fall asleep and stay there