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9 bedtime tips

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#1 Crafty Bear

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

9 bedtime tips to get your kid to sleep better

Help make your dreams of easy bedtimes come true with these 9 tips.

How would you describe the ideal bedtime with your child? Teeth brushed, face washed, and tot nestled quietly beneath the covers, their sweet little nose poked out for a goodnight kiss? Now how would you describe an actual typical bedtime around your house?

If you and your family battle with bedtime, you could all be missing out on the sleep you need! Snuggle up with these 9 strategies for smoother bedtime routines:

Number 1 bedtime tip? You guessed it: Be consistent! Sure, it's much easier said than done. But both kids and parents benefit from following a consistent bedtime routine. In research, tots and toddlers who followed a specific routine night after night fell asleep more quickly, stayed asleep longer, and woke up more refreshed night after night. And the best news? The moms reported that they were in much better moods! So, once you hit on a routine that works for you and your child, stick with it.

Wind down together. Some parents swear by the "wear-'em-out" approach to bedtime letting their kids run wild, spend all their energy and fall asleep after the whirlwind of activity. Might work for some, but you could also make the pre-bedtime hours a mellow, shared time. Emphasize quieter, imaginative play or chilled-out card games, puzzles or block-building. Chat, read books together or listen to laid-back music.

Give your child a heads-up. Clue your kid in to an approaching bedtime, so they can practice self-regulating their energy and activity levels.

Post a bedtime checklist. Aside from every family's cute, unique bedtime rituals, there should be a few nighty-night non-negotiables. Write up a checklist of things like bath, tooth brushing, hand washing or that one last potty trip. Have a wipe-off board for nightly use. Let your child decorate the list so they take ownership of it.

Play pick-and-choose. You set the bedtime, but you can allow your child to make other bedtime-related decisions. Lay out two sets of pyjamas and let your child choose one to wear. Try the same thing with bedtime storybooks or toothpaste varieties.

Put the "bed" back in bedroom. Bedrooms should be for sleeping. Unfortunately, space constraints and toy overload means many kids' bedrooms do double- and triple-duty as playroom, multimedia room and punishment zone. Clear out as many non-sleep-related items as you can and make your child's bedroom a peaceful, cozy location that welcomes them into slumber.

Bed down. Once your child has done pre-bed wash-ups, it's time to tuck in. Sing a lullaby or engage in other soothing, sleep-friendly rituals. Sit on the side of the bed or in a nearby chair for a quiet chat, a story or nightly prayers, or to say goodnights to far-flung relatives and friends.

Make offers that can't be refused. Avoid negotiating with a child. You'll lose. And don't suggest that it's time to sleep. Don't wonder aloud, "Mommy thinks it's beddy-bye-time." Give a firm but gentle command: "It is time to sleep now." Assure your child that you'll check in on them in a little while. You might have to do this a few times if they get out of bed. Just stick with it consistency will pay off.

Know when to change. Ah, the flipside of the consistency coin. Kids grow and their sleep needs change. Bedtime rituals that worked through your son's terrible twos may fail terribly once he's ready for kindergarten. Notice if your child seems sleep-deprived or moody or if your bedtime stories aren't commanding quite the attention they once did. You may need to tweak your routine.