Better your child’s sleep!
9 minute read, Written By: Momly
Once a child attains a toddler phase, it becomes increasingly difficult to put them to sleep at night. They will start throwing tantrums and find every possible way to stretch their sleep hours. Every hour they pass without sleeping increases our heartbeat and steals our precious hours that could be spent on reading, listening to music, or just relaxing after a long day. In other words, sleeping kids means Moms Free Time isn’t it? So, what are the ways to improve their sleep pattern and achieve bedtime discipline? Momly brings some bedtime routine tips to motivate your child to sleep.
A good sleep of 8 to 9 hours is needed for the mind to switch off the thought circuit, give the body ample time to rest/recover and replenish the expended energy to bounce back the following day. On the other hand, erratic sleep patterns in children will give rise to unhealthy behaviours like frustration, anger, and irritability, which further lead to uncontrollable tantrums. To have a better quality of sleep, having a bedtime routine is very important for children. Also, studies indicate having sleep hygiene as one of the integral aspects of lowering sleep-related disorders and other chronic conditions. But, to know what you should be doing as a part of your child’s bedtime routine, let’s first understand a bedtime routine and unpack its glowing advantages.
As much as healthy eating and exercise are vital for health, sleep is the most significant factor that brings your child’s physical and mental health in harmony.
What is a bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine is a set of activities that you do every night on a repetitive basis to set your child up for good sleep. As the day crawls and tucks itself into the blanket of night, you would want your child to hit the sack at a reasonable time. The bedtime routine is the list of activities that will help you to lower the distractions and naturally induce your child to get into a bed. Additionally, it will give your child stability and a sense of predictability of every day’s rhythm. Moreover, bedtime discipline early on erases the woes related to late waking up for school which is the biggest worrying factor for moms of school-going children.
Advantages of a bedtime routine:
- Child feels rested and relaxed throughout the day
- Reduces anxiety and unwanted stress in children
- Improves their mood by lowering irritability due to lack of sleep
- Helps in reasoning and cognitive skill
- Makes them more focused on their work
We as mothers are sometimes clueless and have tons of questions related to parenting. While the internet and books are repositories of knowledge and we turn to them for every doubt or small query, in the process, we forget the gravity of being a mother. Little do we give importance to maternal instinct or ma ka Gyan in this digital age. We wanted to break that mold and give you the best of all moms’ advice on parenting. Momly spoke to a few moms in its Momly community WhatsApp group in regards to kids sleeping routines, and guess what we have some brilliant answers to our puzzle of a bedtime routine that just fits like a glove.
Momly moms’ tips to have a healthy bedtime routine
Light at the end of the tunnel – Dim the lights of your room. Dark rooms with curtains draped act as an unsung lullaby. It provokes the child to drop their active mind outside their bedroom. As we all know our circadian rhythm is tuned with the sun and a crack of dawn automatically wakes us up by acting as a natural alarm clock, it goes without saying that light intervenes in our sleep. Give them an environment bereft of light during bedtime and see your child gravitating towards the bed without much effort. As they say, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, where the light you will see in the darkroom is your child’s quality sleep.
A warm happy bath – Research says that giving a nice warm bath in the evening or before bedtime improves sleep quality in children. Make their bath time interesting by gathering their favourite bath toys. Also, you can teach them how to wash. A gentle massage with soothing oils works best for their skin. You can play soft music during bath time or sing a happy song yourself.
Tummy full, sleep uninterrupted – A child’s sleep is not only connected to external factors like screen time and bright lights. At this juncture, you should check if they have fully eaten their meal or if they are still hungry. Making sure that their tummy is loaded before bedtime is half the battle won else it could result in disturbed sleep or throwing tantrums to put away the sleep. Give your child a healthy mix of all food groups. If they have not finished their meal due to some reason, hand them a glass of milk before they hit the bed so that they don’t get hunger pangs right in the middle of their sleep. Also, having a proper schedule for every meal helps to put sleep in order.
Books are our friends – Reading calms a child’s mind. It also builds a reading habit. If you are planning to incorporate a reading habit as a part of your bedtime routine, ask your child to choose the book he/she wants to read. This will give them agency to choose and naturally make them incline or interested in the book that they are reading. Reading on their own, or parents reading aloud a book helps a child fall asleep easily and minimize bedtime struggles.
Keep calm and play music – Some children are naturally inclined towards music. They like to listen to light soothing melodies before going to sleep. It is also a well-known fact that music acts as a pacifier and induces one to sleep better. That is also the reason why lullabies are celebrated since time immemorial and are a part of the sleep routine for children. You can play gentle music and see how they are responding to it. Identify soothing melodies in your playlist to play for your bedtime. Avoid peppy and fast numbers.
Time to connect and deepen your bond – Talk to your child and ask how was their day. You can read them a book, or sing a song that they love. Tell them your childhood stories and laugh with them. You can also use kinesthetics like hugging or caressing their hair lovingly. This will make them safe and secure, build more trust within them for you and strengthen your bond. Family bonding time or kids and moms time can be the best bedtime ritual to release their overwhelming emotions and fall asleep easily.
What you should never do before bedtime?
Give them screen time – Blue light coming from different sources like TVs, computers, smartphones, and I-pads intervene with the sleep routine and controls melatonin levels. Allowing screen time before bedtime is a recipe for disaster. Children watching television or using mobile phones before bedtime are reported to have sleep troubles, lack of concentration, and poor cognitive skills. Also, limit their screen time during the day. Keep aside 1-2 hours of recreational screen time and see to it that the content they are watching is devoid of any sensitive topics that could trigger unnecessary emotions.
Fall for the sweet tooth – If your child asks for a chocolate or a nugget of malai burfi sitting inside your sweet box, do not give in to their demands. Do not fall for their angelic gaze and pleading voice. Sugary foods or snacks are a complete no-no before bedtime. The sugar-rich snacks result in a sudden energy spike.
Do activities that spike their energy – Do not make your child engage with activities that will activate their neurological circuit. High-intensity activities or movements like exercise, jumping, dancing, etc should be avoided during bedtime. When these activities are done in the earlier part of the day, it will help your child sleep better.