Updated: Feb 18, 2019
I'm pretty sure all of us can agree that getting a good nights sleep is very important, right? It's especially important for our growing kiddos! Their bodies are growing 24/7 and their brains are working all day as they take in all sorts of information and knowledge. By the time bedtime comes around, after an entire day of being over stimulated it can be really difficult for your child to transition. A few of my clients have been asking for advice with this transition, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about healthy bedtime routines & give you all some tips that might make a world of a difference for you and your child.
To start off, it is important to have a consistent bedtime routine. Establishing a predictable routine will eliminate any room for guess work for you child as they prepare to wind down and get some rest. For your bedtime routine to work at it's best, it helps to consistently go to bed at (or around) the same time every night.
Your routine could look something like...
-Dim the lights
-Put pjs on
-Go to the bathroom
-Read a book or tell a story while cuddling in your child's bed
-Night time massage, squeeze arms & legs
-Take deep breaths & slip off to sleep
Of course, sometimes it is NOT that easy...
In addition to having a predictable & consistent bedtime routine, it is also important to create a relaxing environment. For you & I we might make a cup of chamomile tea, light our favorite candle, read a book...try to envision that for your child-what would they see as relaxing? Consider all of our senses- sound, touch, sight, smell, taste (maybe not taste-but the other four senses are a great place to start).
If your child is sensitive to sound, try using earplugs or playing background music on low volume that is soothing, predictable, & rhythmical. Try an instrumental playlist, or grab a CD recording of babbling water or ocean waves. One of my daughters used a sound machine when she was little & loved it. It had different variations of water & nature sounds so she could choose what worked best for her when she needed it.
Adding some weighted pressure can also help relax your child. Try tucking them under a weighted blanket or a heavy quilt. You could even add more pressure by having them sleep in lycra pants or a swim shirt. Providing deep pressure (through either blankets or clothing) gives your child's brain the input it needs to activate neurotransmitters in their brain that produce melatonin (sleep hormone) and serotonin (the happy hormone). The release of these hormones helps us drift off to sleep & feel relaxed. In addition to the release of melatonin & serotonin, deep pressure also releases oxytocin, which is known to decrease blood pressure & heart rate.
Another way to use your child's sense of touch to relax them is to make their bedding nice and warm for them. Not too hot, just a gentle warmth will help them get nice and cozy. You could heat up their bed by using a heating pad or blanket, or even throwing their sheets in the dryer for a few minutes (if you have the time). I am sure you have heard of them before, but consider buying a stuffed animal that you warm up in the microwave (they normally have a lavender scent) just before bed & have them snuggle with as they drift off to sleep. This would be a great alternative for the warmer months of the year when a warm bed might not be as appealing.
Does your chid like to sleep with a night light? So did mine, but it is best to have the room as dim as possible. Try to find a spot for their night light where it is out of direct vision. Maybe around a corner or on the wall behind their head. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night & sees the light directly, it could wake their mind up & and they will have trouble getting back to sleep.
It also helps significantly to eliminate any screen time 1-2 hours before bed time. Instead of watching TV, use that time to read together or play a board game.
Smell Lavender is notorious for it's calming abilities. Luckily for us, there are many different ways for us to incorporate it into our bedtime routine. You can use an essential oil diffuser, or directly apply the essential oil on their pillowcase. Alternatively, you can use a lavender scented lotion or like I mentioned earlier, purchase a stuffed animal with a lavender scented center for your child to cuddle with.
So to recap it all,
-Make a bedtime routine & keep it consistent.
-Consider their senses & create a relaxing environment for them.
-Eliminate screen time 1-2 hours before bed.
Following through with all of these tips should make a difference in your child's sleep habits, and hopefully your's too! Getting enough rest impacts our lives in so many ways it's unbelievable. Let us know if you end up trying any of these methods and how it made a difference!