Kids to Sleep: Five Tips and Tricks

Sleep. The universal parenting challenge! How to get those kids to sleep on their own. How to keep them sleeping all night - or at least keep them from getting YOU up at night when they do wake up. We all want the answers. Well, unfortunately, there is no magic answer that will get your kids in bed and sleeping through the night with no issues EVERY time...but this is what works for us MOST of the time:

1. Early bed time. When Ophelia (now 2.5) was still co-sleeping with us, she went to be whenever we did. And her sleep habits were horrid! Then I started a bedtime routine with her - and the first step in that routine was a consistent and EARLY bed time. 6:30 pm to be precise. Now that she is a little older, her bedtime is 7 pm. If she stays up much later than that, she starts to get overtired and that leads to The Crankies and Bedtime Battles. Now - I've found that we can make bedtime even earlier if we have had a long day - but making bedtime later almost always ends badly. This tip also has an added bonus for the parents: a few hours of 'kid free' time before we have to hit the hay ourselves!

2. Routine, Routine Routine. Now don't roll your eyes and say "I've heard it all before" because this is a definite MUST in getting kids to bed without a battle. Children really do behave better if they know what to expect. And having a solid bedtime routine helps kids know exactly what is going down every evening - no surprises (well, except maybe a special new pair of jammies on occasion!) Find a routine that works for you and your kiddo and stick to it. Here is what works for us: Dinner, Nakie Time, Bath, Lotions and Potions, Jammies on, Night Nights (we have a silly routine of saying goodnight to various things on the way to her room), 3 Stories, In Bed.

3. Stories. We are lucky that Ophelia LOVES her stories. She loves them so much that we actually had to set limits at bedtime or we would be reading until dawn. She gets THREE stories of her choice - long or short - but THREE is the limit. This is a great way for her to settle in a bit and wind down for the evening. Most nights dad does her stories so this is also good 'dad time' - as he is working most of her waking hours during the week.

4. Comfort Items. Personally, I think we have gone overboard on this one - as some nights there is not much room left in bed for Ophelia - BUT I think that having a comfort item (or 2) that helps your child feel safe and calm can help at bed time. Ophelia has her Taggie Blanket that is the ultimate item, but we also have Water Cup and Twilight Turtle and Sleep Sheep and Snuggle Pig and Lambie and Duckie and Pink Bear ... and we have music for her to listen to as well. And books. She always wants books in her bed with her when she goes to sleep at night. We have relented - as sometimes she will sit and read to her dolls after we leave the room - BUT we have limited to a short stack so as not to bury her in an avalanche of books in the middle of the night!! Oh - and night lights!! Don't forget the night lights!

5. Stay Calm. When Mom and Dad are calm, relaxed, and cool as a cucumber, bedtime always goes better. Whether a trip to grandma's or the big game has made bedtime later than normal or if a missed nap or a bad day at school is causing meltdowns or if you have a midnight waker, the best way to approach the scenario is with the utmost serenity - even if your head is about to explode. There are so many things that can throw bedtime into a tizzy: teething; potty learning; illness; under/over stimulation. As parents we have to learn to take it in stride and not throw a fit: after all, kids learn by example, right?

Sometimes, however, you just have to take sleep however and wherever you can get it!
If you want to read more sleep tips from more great moms, check out this Blogging Contest sponsored by St. Eve Kids and Twittermoms! Check out  Drama U sponsored by St. Eve Kids!
And hey, if I win, one of my readers will win too! All you have to do is post a reply to this post to qualify!


Grandma said...

Great information on sleeping but Ophelia asleep on the changing table is priceless!

MtnMom said...

Great tips! And how adorable is O sleeping with her bum in the air!?!?!

We used all of these tricks with both of our girls. Worked like a charm with one who slept through the night from about 8 weeks on, but the other one didn't sleep through the night on a regular basis until she was five. We tried everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Some kids just don't sleep well. Happily, she now crawls happily into bed after a long, hard day of first grade!

Alexis said...

Great summary of sleep tips. Charlie still goes to bed at 6:30 pm since she decided no more day napping. It seems crazy, but the later she goes to bed, the earlier she wakes up. Now if I can just be better about the sleep training with miss Lizzie. I totally half-butted it with Charlie and it never fails to haunt me as she cries out " I not tired, i want to play!"

Heidi Maxwell said...

Well, you all had a 1 in 3 chance of winning, but I could only pick one of you...and I love you all so, I let pick for me. And comment #2 wins!! YAY Kate! I will let you know when the Cozies arrive and I'll send yours on it's way!


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