8 Ways to Get Kids to Go to Sleep at Night
There are plenty of jokes about how having children means that you will never have a good night’s sleep again. Just how true are they? Well, if you’re like many parents, they are sadly true for you. Luckily, you don’t have to suffer, and neither does your child. Here are some excellent ways to help your child get to sleep at night without the crying and fighting that often accompanies bedtime.
8 Tips to Help Your Child Fall Asleep
That old counting sheep trick isn’t just an old wives’ tale. This was something I was taught when I was little, and I even use it now as an adult to help me get to sleep on those nights when I just can’t stop my racing thoughts. You don’t need to count sheep, but once your child is old enough to count, challenge him or her to count as high as they can. Sometimes it helps to offer a prize for hitting a certain number. For example, you might tell your child that if they can count to 500 without falling asleep, you will give them a prize in the morning. It can be as simple as a toy car or something from a dollar store. Chances are, the counting is enough to knock them out. I’ve never had to give a prize when I’ve offered this challenge.
#2 White-Noise Generators
White noise generators are great for children who live in high-noise areas, whether it’s by a busy road or simply on a night when the neighbors in the next apartment are throwing a party. You can download some as apps onto phones, but you can also purchase them through stores like Amazon. You don’t always have to use a true white noise generator, though. In some cases, ceiling fans can be their own “white noise” producers. Figure out what works for your child. It may even be putting a fish tank with the regular burbling works as a white noise generator of a sort, allowing your child to be soothed to sleep by the noise.
#3 Soothing Music
For my son, we set up his room with lullabies when he was a baby. He’s 10, and he still listens to them at night. The quiet music with the repetition really helps him to sleep at night, and as long as it’s quiet enough, it won’t wake him up. Generally you want to set the music so that you can barely hear it because, once it gets quiet in the house, the music will be louder than you think. You may have to adjust it a few times until you get the right volume.
Children love to play, so why not make night-time more fun by making it a game? Ask them to pretend to be asleep. Tell them to “pretend” to sleep for 10 to 15 minutes. More often than not, being in a darkened room with their eyes closed will make the “pretend sleep” turn into real sleep.
#5 A Warm, Relaxing Bath
Taking a warm bath before bed can definitely help the trip to dreamland go more smoothly. Whether you use it to wear your child out by allowing all the bath toys in the world and turning it into a game or if you simply let them soak in a warm tub, the heat can work its magic and help your child go to sleep when the lights go out. You can even combine aromatherapy and choose a “sleepy” scent for the bubbles, like lavender.
Many different bath stores will sell aromatherapy products for use to help sleep at night. These are just as good for children as they are for adults. One great idea is to use a spray that is meant for bed linens. You can spray the sheets and even the pillowcase lightly to allow the scent to permeate the sleeping area. Some good scents are chamomile, lavender, and sage. Of course, every child is different, so be ready to experiment.
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that is generally in sublingual form. You can buy it at most grocery stores and health food stores, and you simply put the tablet or film under your child’s tongue before bedtime. While it is natural and over-the-counter, before trying it, talk to your child’s pediatrician to make sure that it is safe for them and that there is no counter-indications for them taking it.
#8 Quiet Time
Before bed, it’s good to have a certain amount of time set aside just to be quiet. Studies have shown that watching TV or playing video games can make it harder to get to sleep because the mind is being stimulated. Instead, create a buffer of fifteen to thirty minutes of simple quiet time. If your child is small enough, this is a great chance to sit today in a rocker or glider and talk about the day. If the child is older, quiet time may involve reading a book or even coloring/drawing. If it’s possible, dim the lights and engage in activities that are quiet and soothing. Don’t use this as time to play a board game or anything else that might cause excitement. Now is the time to wind down and start realizing just how tired everyone is getting.
Input from the Child
It’s good to let your child help in the sleep process. Be careful to not allow any “no” responses to questions, though. Don’t ask your child if he or she is ready to go to bed or if he or she wants to do anything. Instead, ask questions like, “Would you like to read a story or put on your pajamas first?” “Would you like to take a bath or brush your teeth first?” Asking these questions and letting your child pick the order of the routine can help them feel involved in the process and make them more willing to go along with it. It can also help them to feel in control, which may help them feel as if they are making the choice to go to sleep, which can definitely help.
Cry it out?
Do you think that it's best to let your child cry it out to sleep?
Dr. Jodi Mindell sits down with two young mothers to give some helpful tips on getting their young children to sleep!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.