Lots of things happen when you have a kid: You’ll become a pro at changing a diaper one-handed (using a V cute diaper bag), you’ll get used to never peeing alone and you’ll be sleep deprived — very, very sleep deprived. The lack of z’s won’t stop when your offspring steps up from baby to toddler, but this is the time when you really need to set boundaries, create healthy habits and instill nighttime routines that will make bedtime easier for your wide-awake little human. Not only will you be able to get more rest yourself (and OMG, you’ll need it), but you will help your kids feel safer and more secure (routines help with that). It’s a win-win! To assist you in this noble journey, we have five tried and true ways to help your little ones go night night.
1. Read soothing books. This is a go-to bedtime routine for a gazillion parents, and for good reason. It works! But you shouldn’t merely pull out any book — find tomes that are soothing, relaxing and have a soft cadence. You wouldn’t want to pick a book that is full of action or one that’s too interactive. This is the time for them to wind down. When reading, try to use your softest tone; not only will it help relax them, but it’ll do wonders for you too. Find a book that they love and that brings them comfort. If you find a book that works not unlike a sleeping pill, you’ve lucked out (I have no idea why, but my daughter would nod off whenever I’d read her Oh No, Not Ghosts! I can pretty much recite this one by heart).
2. Say your goodnights. Pull a Goodnight Moon and have your little one say goodnight to anything and everything. Wish the dog, the cat, their stuffies, their siblings and, yes, even the moon a goodnight. It’s a sweet routine that will help them realize that this is adjustment time between awake and asleep. There’s something about having them realize that it’s not just them going to sleep and that they’re not alone. Just give them boundaries. If they start saying goodnight to every hair on your head, you’re in trouble.
3. Have them take a bath. This is another bedtime helper that many parents don’t use enough. The warm water of bath time will help relax your child’s mind, as well as their muscles, and will assist in getting them to a state more conducive to sleep. Just thinking of taking a bath makes me sleepy. If you have a dimmer on your bathroom lights, having the lighting a bit lower than usual will help even more. Chat with them while they bathe and reflect on the day. And there’s a big bonus to this routine — you’ll have a clean kid!
4. Play relaxing music. Hide your Ramones and Kesha CDs; they won’t help with bedtime AT ALL. Instead, invest in some low-key kid-friendly music from classic lullabies to classical to Bossa Nova (we’re partial to Getz / Gilberto played at a low volume). It doesn’t need to be music; you can use sounds from something like the Baby Shusher — it’s a sound machine for the baby who loves the sound of shushing.
5. Play a soothing game. There are several games that can help get your little one to sleep (and do a little learning in the process). Take turns playing the alphabet game. First say something like “A is for apple,” and they would follow with “B is for boy.” Keep on going until they nod off. Numbers work just as well: Try “one little monkey,” followed by “two cute cats” and so on, until they get to the point where they go night night.
Does your family do any of these bedtime routines? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know.
(Photos via Getty)