Tips for Putting Your Child to Bed

by Patti Teel

Getting your child to sleep is about much more than what happens once they get into bed. Here are some ways to establish a healthy bedtime routine each and every night:

  • Make sure bedtime is at the same time every night. Children feel safe and are much more likely to be good sleepers when they have a consistent bedtime and a predictable bedtime routine. It helps ensure that they get enough sleep while giving their world a sense of order.

  • On weekends, don't vary bedtime for more than an hour each night. This creates a kind of "jet lag" in your child when Monday rolls around. If necessary, plan activities for weekend mornings so your child has a reason to get out of bed.

  • Try to limit active play, television, video-game playing and computer time for an hour or two before bed.

  • Tell your child five or ten minutes before their bedtime routine begins so they can finish what they are doing.

  • Create a customized bedtime ritual that you and your child can participate in every night. Choose quiet, relaxing activities like telling stories, singing songs, stretching or saying prayers. For instance, your ritual may include telling a short story, singing a song and then saying a prayer. You can change the story, song and prayer but keep the order the same each night.

  • Take care of your child's physical needs so there's no reason to get out of bed. Make sure he or she is wearing comfortable pajamas and has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket within reach. Some children like to have a glass of water by the bed, the door slightly open or a nightlight on.

  • The air in your child's room should be fairly cool -- around sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. If the air is particularly dry, use a vaporizer.

  • If older brothers or sisters are allowed to stay up later, make sure they're doing quiet activities that don't disturb the younger sibling.

  • Leave your child's room while they're still awake so they can learn to settle themselves. If this is a problem for your child, practicing the Floppy Sleep Game exercises will systematically teach children to relax and fall asleep on their own.

Dubbed "The Dream Maker" by People magazine, Patti Teel is a former teacher and the author of The Floppy Sleep Game Book, which gives parents techniques to help their children relax, deal with stress, or fall asleep.

Copyright © Patti Teel. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.