One of the most common concerns for parents with children and sleep is getting them to go to bed on time at night. If you are a parent, then there is a good chance you have had a hard time putting your child to bed, and bedtime can be a reoccurring nightmare for a lot of parents. Kids require more sleep compared to adults, but it is strange that they would do anything to resist going to bed. This can result in a lot of strain on both the parents and children and everyone in the household might have poor sleep.
What can you do to get your kids to go to bed on time? How can you make it a regular habit? Below are 7 tips that will go a long way in helping you get kids to bed on time at night:
Knowing the amount of sleep your child needs to get. Children require different amounts of sleep based on their age. Understanding their needs will involve knowing how many hours a night they sleep, total hours slept every day, and napping habits. When you understand their needs, you will have an easier time setting limitations and bedtime rules for your kids.
How much sleep do children need? Below is a general guide for sleep a child needs basing on age:
1 to 4 weeks old – Newborns usually sleep for 16-17 hours a day, and 1-3 hour periods of wakefulness. Newborns don’t have a day/night sleep cycle, which is why their periods of wakefulness and sleep vary to all hours of the day. This means parents are forced to adjust their sleep schedule so they can accommodate that of their newborns.
1 to 4 months old – Babies in this age range still have the same number of hours as newborns, but the day/night cycles have started to kick in, which allows them to sleep longer at night, although they will wake up when they need to be changed or fed.
4 months to 1 year – When the baby is within this age range, he/she is going to need 14-15 hours of sleep every day. Most children can sleep through most of the night, and will take up to three naps during the day and evening. This is the point where you need to start establishing healthy sleep habits for your kid.
1 to 3 years – Most will need to get 12-14 hours of sleep every day, but they can get less depending on the schedule of the parents and older children in the home. This is also where they are more likely to lose their early evening nap and early morning nap, and will only have one nap a day.
3 to 6 years – The children need approximately 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Children in this age group might need a short nap during the day, but the need for a nap is going to diminish when they join the first grade.
7 to 12 years – Children in this age group need 10 to 12 hours of night sleep, but they usually get 9 to 10 hours.
13 to 18 years – Teens in this age range will need 8 to 10 hours, but they don’t get what they need in most cases. There is a lot of things they need to do like schoolwork, after school programs, and other activities that take time from their sleep. Most teens manage to get only 6 to 8 hours of sleep.
Making a bedtime routine – having a bedtime routine in place is going to help both the child and the parents during bedtime. Kids will thrive with a structure in their lives because they get a sense of safety and security. When you have routines for your children, they get things to associate with sleep, which prepares them for sleep.
You should have a bedtime ritual for them to wind down about 15-30 minutes before the bedtime routine starts. This can involve playing relaxing music, turning off the TV, talking softer, putting on kids cotton pyjamas, dimming lights, and even moving slower. The children are going to pick up on these because they are a cue that bedtime is approaching.
The actual bedtime routines will consist of relaxing and sleep-promoting activities. A typical bedtime routine can be:
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Putt on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Storytime in bed
- Goodnight kiss
You can alter or change the routine depending on what works for your child. Consistency is more important than the components of the routine.
Creating an ideal sleeping environment. The room needs to promote sleeping. You should have the room quiet, dark, and cool. There are some children (especially the younger children) who want a little light in the room when they are sleeping, making it a good idea to have dim light or nightlight. If they are having a hard time sleeping with silence or if you want to drown out the noise, then consider using a fan or noise machine because it produces a rhythmic steady sound.
Turning off electronics. Remove computers, televisions, games, and any other electronic devices from the room. Such devices are going to keep them awake because of their stimulating content and also the light being emitted from the device mimics daylight. This tricks the brain into thinking that it is the day and it needs to stay awake. Take the electronics or turn them off an hour before bed. Having computers and TV’s in the room means there is a possible distraction that you cannot control once you are out of the room.
Making sure they are getting regular exercise. Children need to get plenty of exercise during the daytime because they will wind down quicker close to bedtime. It is also important to avoid letting them play 3 hours before going to bed because they might be too stimulated to sleep.
Avoid caffeine and meals before bedtime – Caffeine is a stimulant and not good for children. If you allow the kid to have a soft drink once in a while, then it is important to ensure that they don’t consume any drink containing caffeine and sugar 3 hours before bedtime. It is okay to give them snacks before bedtime, but they have to be healthy and not very filling. If they want something to eat or drink before going to bed, just give them a light healthy snack like crackers or fruit or a glass of milk.
Being on the lookout for any signs of sleep disorders. If you have a consistent bedtime routine in place and have made all the possible adjustments to fit into the individual’s needs of the kid and they are still having a hard time with sleep, then it could be a sign of sleep disorder. Have a close look at the sleeping behaviors of your child and how they function during the daytime. If they are always feeling tired during the day, or a difficult time concentrating on their homework or behavioral problems at school or home, it could be a sign that they have a sleep disorder.