How many of you struggle with bedtime in your household? I know for my family; bedtime use to be horrible. Bedtime was a disaster at my house until I finally set some bedtime routines. My boys never had a “bedtime” and it followed them through to high school. They were tired and grouchy all the time.
The key to a good bedtime routine is consistency. Start early. It is much easier to start a good bedtime routine when your baby is young, rather to wait and try to change poor sleep routines. It is not too late to start now; it may take longer to get into the routine if they are older. You can do this.
The first thing you need to establish is a pre-bedtime routine. This is the time that you should have a snack and start doing something calming. Do not involve technology during this time. This is a good time for baths to be incorporated. Start reminding them at this time, in one hour it will be bedtime. Set a timer if that helps, this is what we do in our house. I have one set for 8:00pm and one for 9:00pm.
Next you will plan your bedtime routine. Be sure to make the bedtime routine age appropriate. Your child’s bedtime routine will change over time. Keep your bedtime routine fairly short. A good bedtime routine will last 10-15 minutes. While your child cannot pick their bedtime, they can still be a part of planning it. Let them choose their pajamas or which book to read. In my house for example, my daughter brushes her teeth goes potty and gets into bed for a story. My husband always reads my daughter a few pages of a Harry Potter book. She picked what we read a few years ago and so far, we are on book 5. This has been a very rewarding and great time for bonding.
Do understand a little crying on your child’s part and sometimes yours is normal. This will be a process; most children do not just snap into a routine. Just be patient and consistent. Sometimes a night light makes all the difference. Again, I cannot stress this enough, no electronics, no tv. In the beginning you may have to put your child back in bed up to 20 times. Do not give up, be consistent. My husband and I were so exhausted while trying to sleep train our daughter. In the end, it was worth it. She is 7 years old now and never fights us on bedtime!
–Jennifer P. is the director of Finding Me Now Indianapolis – South