Have you ever felt like trying to get your kids to bed was like trying to win a losing battle? Some struggle with getting the little ones to settle in for the night, a frustration many parents share. But there are solutions that might help. If you're tired of having to convince them to stay in bed or persuade your kids to close their eyes, we've got five ideas to make bedtimes better for you both!
1- Make the Bedroom a Healthy Sleeping Environment
During the day, try to play anywhere but on the bed with your kids. Teach them to associate the bed with sleep.
If they play where they rest, it is harder for them to associate the bed as a place for sleeping instead of being active. When playtime is done, put toys and games away out of sight as much as possible, so there's no temptation to get out of bed after the lights go out.
At bedtime, ensure the bedroom is set up for restful sleep. Making bedtime a positive experience is an important part of helping kids be ready for bed. Here are a few things to consider that help create a healthier sleeping environment at night:
- Use blackout or room-darkening curtains to keep outside lights from streaming through any bedroom windows.
- Try playing white, brown, or pink noise on a sound machine to help them sleep.
- Keep the room between 60 to 68 degrees. Cooler conditions mimic the body's decreased core temperature, which initiates sleepiness.
- If your child is at the age to use an alarm clock with a digital display that stays on all night, try facing it away from them so they don't fixate on time.
2- Ease into the Bedtime Routine
Ease into bedtime with your kids to give them time to wind down. Instead of beginning a routine and putting your kids to bed as quickly as possible on the dot of their bedtime—say—8:30 PM, for example, try easing them gently into a bedtime routine. Start at 7:30 or 8 PM if you wish, by moving from the living room and home-play toward slowly winding down.
That can look like moving their play to the bathtub before bed or setting an hour or half-hour of quiet activities such as reading in their room.
3- Turn Off Screens at Least 2 Hours Before Bed
Research shows that blue light and watching TV, phone, or computer screens can interfere with our body's melatonin production. Melatonin is an essential piece of our sleep-wake cycles. When melatonin is at its highest, many people begin to get sleepy and are ready for bed.
Make your kids' bedtime wind-down routine screen-free and ensure that their room is a screen-free zone. Going screen-free can be difficult, but it is essential to your kids' ability to fall asleep—and may help yours, too!
4- Stay Consistent
You've probably heard us say it before, but routine is crucial. Kids love it, they thrive on it, and it works. A consistent nighttime routine improves sleep for children.
A good bedtime routine also teaches our kids about personal hygiene—such as baths, showers, and brushing their teeth—laying the foundation for understanding and maintaining healthy habits when they reach adulthood.
5- Plan for a Bedtime Snack
Children often need more than three meals daily to keep them going as their bodies are constantly changing and growing. A snack before bed can help their bodies stay fueled through the night, but you'll want to avoid anything too sweet. Foods that are high in amino acids like eggs, peanuts, or turkey also encourage the production of melatonin! A drink of water, a healthy snack, or even the traditional glass of warm milk may work perfectly.
What Else Can You Do To Help Your Kids Be Ready For Bed?
Sometimes children may be afraid of bad dreams. Others may be afraid of the dark. Children with bedtime worries or anxiety need reassurance and comfort, so don't dismiss those fears. If possible, address these concerns during the day or at least a few hours before you begin your bedtime routine with your kids.
If the fear of the monster under the bed persists, rather than letting them use this approach to postpone bedtime, incorporate the comforting activities into a nighttime routine.
Check under the bed with them and in the closet or designate a favorite cuddly toy at night that will 'stand guard' against bad dreams. You can also use water to create a unique 'monster spray' to spray around where the monsters are a few hours before bed.
Make Sure Your Kids Love What They Sleep In
Wrapping your little one in comfort as they drift off is a great way to help them be ready for bed. Changing into cozy kids pajamas after a bath or after washing up and tooth brushing should be part of the bedtime routine. This is a good, consistent signal for your child's brain to recognize that they are getting ready for sleep. But if their pajamas or sleepwear are irritating and uncomfortable, it may be harder for them to wind down. When it comes to natural materials that are extraordinarily soft and breathable, we recommend wearing 100% combed cotton PJs.
The same can be said about what sort of sheets your kids are using on the bed. Soft sheets that will keep them warm in winter and cool in summer are essential. Some of our little ones may have sensory issues where they don't like certain textures, which could make them uncomfortable and keep them from sleeping.
When it comes to all things bedtime, for grown-ups or little ones, we're dedicated to helping you make it a better, happier, more comfortable experience as much as possible. Not every night will be perfect, but with these five bedtime tips to help your kids be ready for bed, nighttime becomes a little smoother for everyone.