No matter what age, bedtime can be a battle, a drag, and plain exhausting. When your little one is an infant, they don’t even know what bedtime is. And as they grow, they just get more unwilling to want to go to bed. They somehow become more demanding about what they want before bed.
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Let me start by saying, the biggest secret is it’s less about what time you start your bedtime routine and more about what you include in your bedtime routine. You can always change the bedtime to include more time. You can always shorten it. What’s most important is how they feel when they go to bed. Children need to feel loved, satisfied, and complete when going to bed.
Below you will find the 5 tips to an easier bedtime routine. But it’s important to realize that it also does not matter what order this is done in. Every child is different and what is most important to them may differ. Not only that, it may change as they grow. So take this as a guide and don’t be afraid to try new things. Here we go!
Do you have the little one who has to have a bottle in bed and you’re trying to break the habit? Do you have the little one who always seems to get hungry right before bed? Think about it… how bad are the adult cravings we have that we can’t control (ice cream anyone)? The difference is we are adults that are capable of getting our own drinks, buying our own junk food, etc. Your young one has the same needs, but cannot always express it! Make sure if they are hungry or thirsty before bed that they get a small snack or a sip of water. Keep that sippy cup out of the bed and tell them they can have a small cup on a table nearby. Once it’s empty, it’s gone. Remember, if you are potty training, it is so important to include a trip to the bathroom as close to bedtime as possible. This will help that they don’t wet the bed in the middle of the night while still having their needs met.
To me, this was the least important. However, some children are extremely sensitive to smells. Lavender may have a huge benefit in relaxing your little one before bed. Put a couple of drops in a diffuser like this one. We purchased this one because it is inexpensive, small, has an auto-shutoff, and it also gives them a little night light (we will get to that next). Lavender actually gives me a headache (contradictory I know), so I put eucalyptus oil in it to help cleanse the air and help with any nose problems.
What child doesn’t go through a phase of being afraid of the dark, am I right? If your child has that fear, it could be impossible to fall asleep. It’s another reason we bought the diffuser above. My son always got excited to pick what color he wanted that night. It was bright enough to light up the room, but not so much that he stayed awake playing. Your child may be the total opposite and prefer the dark. Any amount of light could wake them. You might want to invest in some blackout curtains like these. We also have these exact ones in my son’s room. We like the metal-lined holes the rod goes through, but I could see how that could be a turn off for some of you. This will help make sure that during those summer months that they don’t stay up too late or wake up too early because of the longer days.
Does your child wake up to every pin dropping? Or can they sleep through a hurricane? Do they have to have music? Our son used to sleep through anything as long as he went to bed with music. Once he was out, the music could be turned off and he would still sleep solid. This may be a lesser-known item because as parents, we do everything we can to not wake up our little ones; especially as infants. It might be hard but experimenting is key. I recommend manually going in to turn off your music/sound devices for a bit. This will allow you to know what happens when the sound goes off. A device with auto shut off is nice later once you know how your child reacts. From the moment my son was an infant, I tried not to tiptoe around. I didn’t (by any means) make extra noise. But I would do the dishes, watch tv at a normal level, and do everything normally with a little extra grace (yeah right). This helps your child as they grow to not be as sensitive to sounds.
One of the most important for many children. My son’s love language is definitely physical touch. During stories, we make sure to snuggle while reading. He always gets tucked in, a little hug, and a big kiss goodnight. He still gets this to this day and he is seven. Physical touch is a big sign of expressing love at these younger ages because it is tangible. Children don’t understand that you taking them to school or working to pay the bills is because you love them and want to take care of them. Tangible is easy to understand. Always being there at the end of the day to tell them you love them is huge. Trust me, I know this is not always possible. Try to do this during the moments you are able to see your child. Physical touch can also be blankets and stuffed animals. It can be if the room is too hot or too cold. It can be where they are actually falling asleep. This is a creative sense, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box on this one!
So there you have it! I truly hope this helps. Not only did this help me get my son to bed easier, but I also learned more about my child by being aware of all these areas. When a child’s needs are met, they are more likely to relax and fall asleep easier. An extra hint is if you do these in a particular order to create a routine, your child will be used to their routine and begin to get drowsy during their routine.