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Ways to Ease the Stress of Preschool Bedtime for your Child

When children have school the next day, it’s important they get enough sleep. Sometimes this is difficult as children very often resist bedtimes. By adopting a few different strategies, parents can help ease children into bedtime in a calm and relaxed way.

If your child normally naps during the day, try cutting down the length of the nap or doing away with the nap altogether. Your child will be more tired at bedtime and therefore more likely to fall asleep quickly. Try the new schedule for several days to see how things are working out and whether it’s helping. Some children react badly and may become overtired, which can actually result in them sleeping more poorly during the night or having an even harder time falling asleep.

sleeping baby

Speaking of routines, these are the best things to settle children quickly into expected and acceptable behaviour. Make sure you always do the same things each evening, in the same order, so the child knows what to expect next. An acceptable routine could be pyjamas on, teeth brushed, into bed, a bedtime story and then sleep.

Playtime is Important

Make sure young children have plenty of opportunity to play during the day. This can be hard on working parents who may not feel they have the time or energy to provide children with space or stimulation to run around and play, but allowing them to burn of excess energy will help them sleep and relax once they’re in bed.

Keep bedtime activities quiet and relaxing. Cuddles on the sofa, heart-warming stories and even gentle music and scented candles can all have a calming and relaxing effect on a young child.

Keep bedtime snacks light and nourishing. Try to avoid snacks that are heavy on the sugar as this can act as a stimulant and work to keep the child awake during the night. Stick with easily digestible snacks such as crackers, but try to avoid cheese or other dairy products.

Try to avoid television immediately before bed. Young children can become very excited watching TV cartoons and this can stimulate the imagination and make it hard for them to switch off and relax when it’s time to sleep. Turn the TV off up to an hour before bedtime and replace the activity with something more soothing.

Individual Attention Helps Children Feel Secure

Warn children that bedtime is coming up so it’s not a sudden transition from play to bed. You could try telling them it will be time to get ready for bed in ten minutes, then repeating the warning at five minutes before and finally announcing it’s now time to get ready for bed. This is another way of getting children used to a new routine, preparing for what’s coming next so they can anticipate what is expected of them.

Give your child special, personal attention before sleep. Cuddles, tucking in and goodnight kisses all reassure the child that they’re safe and sleeping is a good thing.

Be supportive when children experience fears and doubts. Maybe a dim night-light will help them feel secure, or perhaps they need you to sit with them for a few minutes longer once they’re in bed. Try not to trivialise fears. They may seem irrational to you, but to a child they are very real.

Sometimes, allowing special bedtime activities may make bed a more attractive place to children who really resist going up each night. You may allow a child to read or listen to quiet music until they’re ready to fall asleep by themselves.

Post written by Charlene, on behalf of

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