Monday, February 8, 2021

5 Bedtime Tips for Young Kids

5 Bedtime Tips for Young Kids

Some of you may remember me sharing a similar post to this a couple of years ago. My kids are now 5 and 7, and while bedtime has gotten easier in some ways, we still face challenges. (I'm not surprised either; both my husband and I are night owls by nature.) We continue to learn as we go, and implement the strategies we've learned along the way with new insight.

Several of my friends with younger kids have been struggling with bedtime, which inspired me to share an updated version of our bedtime tips post. I hope this proves helpful for anyone going through similar situations!

1. Start bedtime early.
We still struggle with this sometimes, but are well aware of how important it is. When bed time is rushed, it almost jacks the kids up and then takes them longer to fall asleep. If we start an hour beforehand to allow plenty of time for getting bathed, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading books, they fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep better.

2. Be consistent with bed times.
My husband and I are naturally both night owls. For a long time, we would make sure the kids went to bed early during the week, but let them stay up quite late (and sleep in) on the weekends. This always backfired. We still let them stay up later on the weekends, but no more than an hour past their weekday bedtimes. 

3. Take screens away several hours before bedtime.
Do as I say, not as I do! (I read or watch Netflix on my iPad every night before bed.) In all seriousness though, making sure our kids didn't have access to screens at least a couple of hours before bed has made a huge difference in how well they sleep. (Research backs this up!) My son used to always if he could watch a movie or show before bed, and I was often so exhausted myself I would allow it. I noticed that when we opted for a book instead, he fell asleep much more quickly. That became the rules, and now he looks forward to the storytime and no longer requests a screen.

4. Use the bathroom right before bed.
The only thing worse than trying to get a 5 year old back to sleep after a middle-of-the-night pee is changing their wet sheets. Both of these problems can usually (hey, accidents happen) be avoided with a trip to the bathroom immediately before they go to sleep.

5. Do what works for you.
This is still my favorite tip! (And it applies to all aspects of parenting!) There is so much advice out there for the "right" ways for your child to be sleeping (let babies cry it out, never let babies cry, cosleep with babies but not kids, cosleep as long as you want, make them sleep alone from the beginning, use a bassinet, use a crib, use a floor mattress, use a toddler bed, don't use a bed at all, let them come into your bed, make them stay in their rooms, etc. etc. etc.). And honestly, I disagree with all of it, because there is simply no right or wrong way. Period. I am not a sleep expert, but I have found that being openminded and paying attention to what works best for my kids and for us as a family is what makes nights the easiest for all of us. (Take this from a cosleeping "I will NEVER cosleep" parent.) So while these tips have been extremely helpful for us, and my hope is that one or all of them helps you as well, you do you. Feel out your family, take notice of what nighttime habits produce the best results, and go from there. You're doing a great job.

I'd love to hear other tips and tricks that work for your family as well!



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