Good-quality sleep is important for our kids’ health and wellbeing, development, and behavior – that statement seems like a no-brainer. What isn’t so obvious is how we actually get our kids to go to bed consistently, night after night, when they know every trick in the book for avoiding it. And getting them to stay asleep all night? We might as well be swimming the English Channel during a hurricane. That’s why we’ve put together a list of techniques that will help you make your kids’ bedtime less stressful and more seamless – Bedtime Rehab, if you will. Try implementing our strategies, be patient and consistent, and then reap the rewards of your efforts: sweet, sweet sleep for everyone in the house.
1. Set a Consistent Bedtime
By putting your kids to bed at the same time every night, you’re helping set their biological clocks for when they should be sleepy and when they should wake up. While there will always be exceptions to a set bedtime (holidays and special occasions, grandparent visits), try your best to stick to the sleep schedule.
2. Create a Cozy Bedroom
A cool, dark room will help set a calming tone for sleep. If you’re worried about noise from the street, a television or a pet dog who loves to bark, try introducing a white noise machine that will drown out distractions. Wash sheets, blankets and pajamas with Downy Infusions Sweet Dreams fabric conditioner to make them irresistibly soft and infuse them with the touch-activated, sleep-inviting fragrance of vanilla and jasmine.
3. Stick to a Bedtime Routine
Consistent bedtime routines create security and help signal the transition from playtime to bedtime. Keep your bath, teeth-brushing, pajamas and story routine running like clockwork. In time, the routine alone will help make your kids sleepy.
4. Offer Choices
Kids like to feel independent, so offer choices with two options: Ask them which pajamas they want to wear (“The pink ones or the purple ones?”) or which book they want to read (“The teddy bear story or the circus one?”). They get to make a choice, but you’re still in charge.
5. Make It Enjoyable
Reduce bedtime resistance by making elements of the routine as much fun as possible. Tooth brushing, for instance, becomes more exciting when kids get to use an Oral-B Stages Power Electric Toothbrush and Crest Kids Cavity Protection Sparkle Fun toothpaste.
6. Limit Dawdling
Kids are experts at dragging out bedtime – they’ve figured out that asking for water, another cuddle or extra stories delays the inevitable expectation that they go to sleep! Avoid the infinite bedtime loop by anticipating their requests. Give them a long cuddle that will last all night, put a cup of water by the bed and allow them to make one reasonable request, like a second story or a bedtime song.
7. Talk About the Day
Take turns describing three things that happened during the day. This encourages kids to share their experiences, process the day’s events and relax.
8. Help Them Self-Soothe
When you finish their bedtime story and kiss them goodnight, tell them that if they stay in bed you’ll come back in five minutes to check on them. Reassure them that you’ll be nearby.
9. Reframe Their Fears
If children are too frightened to sleep, or if they often wake up scared, try to reframe their fearful thoughts by making them funny – this teaches kids to control their imaginations. Tell them to imagine that spooky ghost slipping on a banana peel, or find a book in which the monster characters are silly, funny and friendly rather than scary.
10. Give Them a Comforting Object
Being separated from you can be upsetting, so give your child something to hug, like a soft stuffed animal or a T-shirt that smells of you. Research has shown that these “lovies” can significantly reduce nighttime fears.
What techniques do you use to get your little ones to go to sleep – and stay asleep? Share with the P&G everyday community in the comments section.