Updated: May 5
Fostering healthy sleeping habits is a very important part of early childhood development. As a mom of 2 boys, getting my kids to develop good sleeping habits has been quite an interesting journey. I admit I still do have the middle of the night waking and coming to my room from my youngest and sometimes my oldest, but for the most part, I have them both on a solid routine that works well for us. Here are some ideas and tips that I have used that may be of help to you as well to start the process early. This will no doubt reduce the hassle later on trying to fix wrong sleeping habits.
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“Remember it will take a little time and much needed effort to build healthy sleeping habits!”
It will take a little time and much-needed effort on your part as a parent to implement good sleeping habits especially if it has already started. My motto is to be persistent in the process. However, after having these steps in place, the journey will become less of a hassle and much easier to manage.
1. MINIMIZE BEFORE BEDTIME ACTIVITIES
At least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime try to minimize highly engaging activities, for example, video games, computer games, action-packed cartoons, or television shows. This I believe enables your child to get settled in, and also to be ready for bed. I do believe that the less activity they have before bedtime, the fewer nighttime awakenings that will occur. Sometimes we may also think that getting them really tired with activities right before bedtime will help them to fall asleep quicker but believe me when I say it’s not really the case. I may have an agitated child who is having a harder time falling asleep. So I think slowing down right before bed is actually much better based on my observation.
2. START BEDTIME ROUTINE AN HOUR PRIOR TO BEDTIME
My kids have a tendency to ask for everything, as soon as you declare it's bedtime. They need more water, potty breaks, another book, more tv time, etc. It never ends. Here is the trick, start bedtime an hour earlier to get this phase started and still not affect the actual sleep time. For example, I would like my kids to be asleep by 8 pm, and therefore bedtime prepping may start at around 7 pm. They can exhaust every excuse until it's actual sleep time and you can still have them on target for bed. Shh, that’s a secret not to share with them until they have their own kids.
3. HAVE A SET BEDTIME THAT DOES NOT CHANGE
Have a set bedtime that does not change, even on the weekends, summers, or holidays. Try not to change it unless there was an emergency or you were out late vising family, eating out, etc. What I found was that it helped to get them on schedule when there is routine, whether they were at school during the week or at home on the weekends. Then they actually fall asleep at that same time every day regardless of whether or not I let them stay up late. They have gotten familiar with a set bedtime routine. I rarely have a late sleeper past bedtime unless they took a late nap after 2 pm. That brings me to my next point.
4. TRY NOT TO ENCOURAGE SLEEPING AFTER A CERTAIN TIME
You are a better expert at your child's sleeping pattern, therefore I do not encourage any sleeping after a certain time. The time selected is based on your observation. If your child gets a nap after 2 pm for example, does she fall asleep right away at bedtime, or is there a struggle to get them to sleep? If there is a struggle, then I would not recommend any sleep after your observed time. With my kids, I have implemented a no sleep after 2 pm rule. I find that bedtime is less of a hassle and they will fall right asleep on schedule. If they did have a nap after my cut-off time, then I find that there is a struggle to fall asleep, and what eventually happens is that I may have a tired sleeper or late riser the next morning. If your child is attending school, then this can affect the learning process for the day as well.
5. DO BATHTIME RIGHT BEFORE BED
This may or may not work for you, but I do try to give baths before bedtime every day if I can. Sometimes after a long day of playing around, a nice warm bubble bath or shower helps tremendously to get them settled in bed. I also like to use lavender-based shower gels for kids etc. to help them to calm down right at bedtime. My all-time favorite shower gel to use with my kids when they were younger is Johnsons and Johnson Night-Time bath. You can also find it on Amazon.com. Also now that they are older, I love The Honest Company Truly Calming Lavender Bubble Bath. You can also find it on Amazon.com.