If you already have an awesome bedtime routine for your preschooler, congrats! You can skip this article, and just share your tips with us.
For the rest of us, whether it was the start of school for our older kids or a change in sleep habits for our infant, it never hurts to consider a bedtime routine that works to get our preschoolers to sleep on time, and maybe even get time for ourselves.
Establish a bedtime you can keep.
Your preschooler made need more sleep than you think, and certainly more than your school-age kids. In some cases, they might sleep 14 hours (including naptime). This guide from Sleep Foundation can help you determine how much nightly sleep your preschooler requires.
Work backward from your bedtime and set a time to start the bedtime routine.
It might be an hour, or maybe 20 minutes, depending on your child. What’s important is that your bedtime routine is consistent (same time and duration), predictable (the same things every night so that she knows what to expect), and calming (soft voices, minimal stress). Set the timer to help her keep track of the time remaining before the bedtime routine begins and avoid a difficult transition.
Begin with clean up time.
Before you start the snuggles and the soft music, let your preschooler help you pick up toys, or put the laundry in the hamper. The key is letting them help you so that you also have time to wind down after your kids are in bed.
Offer a comfort item.
Offering her a comfort item like her blanket or a favorite toy (or maybe it’s a pacifier, we aren’t judging) will help set the tone that it’s time to get ready for bed.
Choose the activities that work for you and your preschooler.
Preschoolers know what they want. So, you can offer him choices in his routine. Parenting.com offers 14 great ideas:
- Bath: Aim for a warm soak, rather than a manic splashing.
- Brush teeth: It's important for health reasons, but over time it will also help to send your body "go to sleep" signals
- Wash face: More signals to tell your little one it's time to sleep.
- Potty time and glass of water: One last chance to use the toilet before bed and to fill up a small glass of water. Having water bedside will help ward off requests for water later.
- Pick out pajamas: Give your child a feeling of control over bedtime by letting her choose, but limit the options to two or three.
- Pick out books: Again, he's in charge. Let him choose two or three books for you to read.
- Bedtime yoga: Pick some child--friendly, sleep--friendly poses to wind her body down.
- Talk quietly: Connect by talking about her day or engaging in some creative thinking. Or, have her "pick a dream" to decide what she'll dream about tonight.
- Read: Read to your child. Avoid the "one more story" plea by establishing ahead of time how many books you'll read.
- Deep pressure exercises: Help her relax by having her tighten and release muscles, starting from the toes and moving up her body.
- Lullaby: Quietly sing or hum your child's favorite lullaby. Try Yo Gabba Gabba's song, "Think Happy Thoughts."
- Prayer: This can range from a formal religious prayer to a few simple words giving thanks.
- Say goodnight: To each other, the moon, the stars, the teddy bear -- let your child lead the way.
- Snuggle: Tuck her in and kiss her goodnight so you can both go to bed feeling warm and fuzzy.
Make sure the bedroom is distraction-free and conducive to sleep.
Loud toys, iPads or anything else that might distract her from bedtime should be out of eyesight. If you use a Time Timer to keep track of how much time remains until lights out, you can turn off the beep and use the visual cue to note that it’s time for sleep. The Time Timer 3” is a perfect size for the bedroom and has an optional audible tone (on/off switch) and there’s no ticking to distract her. If you prefer volume control, the Time Timer PLUS allows you to set the tone for the volume that is desired for your environment.
What has worked for you to keep a bedtime routine? Share with us for a chance to win a Time Timer! Or use discount code NEEDSLEEP for 25% off the Original Time Timer® 3"! Discount code valid from September 29, 2016 until October 5, 2016.