Bedtime routines are not limited to after dinner, preparing your child for bedtime starts when they first wake up.
Wake up Routine: If you want your children to have an early bedtime around 7pm, then they need to be up before 8am. If they sleep in, their nap will be later and therefore bedtime will be later. Try to wake them up at the same time each morning.
Physical Activity: Children who are physically active fall asleep easier. Therefore it’s important that your child is physically active throughout the day.
Naps: For most children, if they miss their nap there is a danger that they will be over tired and find it hard to settle at night. If they sleep too long or too late in the afternoon, after 3pm, they will not feel sleepy at bedtime.
Bedtime Routine: Incorporate a routine after dinner leading up to bedtime. This will signal to your children that bedtime is approaching and that when the routines are completed; it’s expected for them to go to sleep. If you keep the same routines at the same times, your children will know what will happen next and when it’s time to sleep. A routine provides your children with stability. A common bedtime routine might be a bath, snack, story, brush teeth and a bedtime snuggle.
Remember as you get closer to bedtime, keep activities quiet and calm. Minimize after-dinner television because this may stimulate a child.
When getting your children ready for bed, dim the lights, dress them in cozy sleepers and blankets and try snuggling. This encourages relaxation and will create drowsiness. Always try to create an environment that will induce sleep. Soft music may also help.
If your child does not want to go to bed: Try waiting in your child’s room until they fall asleep. As you keep a consistent day and bedtime routine, you will find the wait time for them to fall asleep will shorten. Don’t make eye contact while you are in the room, and be as boring as possible. Wait until your child is calm, and then move away. If he gets upset come back and reassure him by touching him but not by making eye contact. As he becomes more settled move further and further away.
Night time restlessness: Settle your child back to sleep if they wake during the night by comforting them. Touch them but don’t speak or make eye contact. Just comfort them until they go back to sleep or are settled enough for you too leave.