Offer a Snack, Read a Story and Tuck Your Child into Bed
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Bedtime should be the most relaxing time of the day with children. Find peace by developing a routine.
Bedtime is difficult in many families. But, it can become easier with a consistent routine. To develop a bedtime routine, keep it simple, and practice it every night. When children know what to expect at bedtime, they go to bed without a struggle.
Give the Bedtime Warning
This is the time to use your time if your child has difficulty transitioning to bedtime. Give a ten or fifteen-minute warning that the bedtime routine is going to start. Set the timer and, when it goes off, start the routine.
Offer a Snack
The first part of the bedtime routine should be a snack. This serves two purposes. First, it gets rid of any hunger pangs that have developed in an hour or so since dinner time. If you start the bedtime routine by eating, then you know your child truly is not hungry when he asks for just one more snack after he’s already tucked into bed.
Secondly, if the snack is a food or drink that is calming, it will help relax the child. Warm milk and chamomile tea are both relaxing drinks. Serve with a couple of cookies or crackers. Don’t feed your child foods that have caffeine or artificial dyes and colors. Any of these things could cause hyperactivity and keep your child from being able to fall asleep.
Pajamas and Toothbrushing
Ease into bedtime by keeping the cleaning up routine simple. A quick wipe with a washcloth on the face and hands, toothbrushing, and changing to some cozy pajamas are all that is needed. However, don’t force anything. If your child refuses to change into pajamas, let it go. Bedtime is not the time to engage in a power struggle. Pajamas are not that important.
Read a Bedtime Story
The bedtime story should be a part of every bedtime routine. Not only is it relaxing, but it is a great connection time for the parent and child. Many children will fall asleep while being read to. If they do not, they are usually relaxed enough that they fall asleep soon after.
Glass of Water
It is classic that a child will suddenly become thirsty at bedtime. Keep a glass or a sippy cup of water next to the bed. This prevents the glass of water from becoming a bedtime stall tactic.
The Final Tuck
Before you leave the room, give your child one final tuck into bed. Pull the blankets up and arrange them however he likes. Give him a kiss and tell him you love him before you say good night.
Simple, consistent bedtime routines don’t have to be long. The bedtime snack, storytime, and the final tuck can take just twenty minutes altogether. On some nights, you may want to spend more time snacking or reading. Other nights, you may have less time to devote to the bedtime routine. The important thing is that it is consistent and gives your child a clear ending point to the day.