Creating a bedtime routine to improve sleep and maintain superior health is not as hard as you think. This is what has worked for our family with my six children who have all gone to bed without a problem over the past 23 years.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health. Helping your child get a full night of sleep will also reduce the risk of him or her becoming obese. (4) Hopefully, your child is getting enough, here are the recommendations:
- Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours a night
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours a night
- School-aged children (up to 12 years): 10-11 hours a night
- Teens: About 9 hours a night
Don't worry; you will know if your child isn't getting enough of the good sleep! Your child’s mood and behavior will alert you to whether or not they are getting enough sleep. If you have a hard time getting your child up in the morning, it’s a sign that they probably need to sleep longer. (I know that sounds like I am stating the obvious), but excessive fussiness, irritability, crying and meltdowns, or tantrums can also be related to too little sleep. Frequent yawning throughout the day is another dead giveaway that your child may need to sleep more.
Here's what I do to assure my children go to bed without a fuss and stay in bed; getting a full night of sleep.
- Right after school (or before dinner for moms with children not in school) I would start by having my child run about and expend as much energy as possible outdoors. The fresh air combined with the physical activity will encourage a restful nights' sleep.
- Always make sure that you do any homework or folder checks before dinner, after dinner, you will start to become tired and the likelihood of forgetting increases.
- Make sure your child does not fill up on snacks but instead has a balanced dinner with protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and carbs. The worst thing you can do is let your child have dessert. The sugar (and if it's processed, the chemicals) will make your child feel hyper and then cranky. Also, at dinner, make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids and then cut them off about 2 hours before bedtime.
- About an hour or so before bedtime, you will want to start engaging your child in calm activities such as reading, drawing or even putting a puzzle together on the floor.
- As play time is about to end, tell your child about their “special bedtime routine.” Tell them that they are going to have a fun bath and then it's bedtime.
- It's important to start the countdown by calmly reminding your child that “after the bath, we are going to brush our teeth, put on our pajamas and then get into bed.”
- As you tuck your child into bed, you might share some memories or chat about your day for a couple of minutes, maybe even read a book. Even though you are probably tired at this point, do try not to rush and just stay relaxed. Children pick up on your energy and mood, so try to stay as serene as possible!
- I like to tell my children something they did during the day that I was proud of or point out a character quality I noticed they are working on. This way they fall asleep thinking good thoughts and being happy with you and your relationship together.
- Last, but the best is hugs and kisses! Then lights out and off to sleep. (I do not allow my children to sleep with a night light as it disrupts their sleep patterns. If you feel it is necessary, do not use blue lights opt for soft warm light such as in Salt Lamps)
- If your child gets out of bed after you tuck them in, you need to be firm and apply consequences as appropriate for your parenting style.
Some important side notes:
- try, as much as possible, to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day (1)
- avoid caffeine as much as possible in young children, but especially before bedtime (2)
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep could be cause to check with your pediatrician
- if at all possible, use organic sheets as regular cotton is one of the most highly sprayed crops in America and the pesticides can remain in the fabric. (3)
- Young children should preferably sleep on a natural mattress, or a mattress designed especially for children
- be sure to use a waterproof cover if your young child is still having the occasional accident at night and please never scold a child for wetting the bed as it is usually beyond their control. We did have one out of six who wet the bed until age seven. It wasn't every night, but it was often enough that I always had extra waterproof covers and sheets ready.
Babies smile in their sleep because they're listening to the whispering of angels.
If you would like to know more about how I have raised my six children over the years or have specific parenting questions, feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or just ask your questions in the comments below. I'd love to know what you are wondering about or questions you'd like answers to! Take a minute to read my tips on motherhood and to read one of my most controversial posts; click here.
Later you are going to want to know how to get your teenagers to get OUT of bed. Go ahead and read Dr. Beurkens suggestions now so you can be prepared. Don't forget to pin this to your mom board, so you will have it when you need it!
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