"Mom, I need more water."
"I'm soo hungry"
"My pillow fell on the floor!"
"Tomorrow can we…."
Children are master procrastinators, especially when it comes to avoiding bedtime or prolonging falling asleep. Keep reading to find out how you can put an end to those bedtime curtain calls.
Establish an age appropriate bedtime.
Generally, an appropriate bedtime for children 4 months + is between 6:00-8:00pm. At this time, the body’s production of melatonin (the sleepy hormone) begins to rise and your child is ready for bed. An energetic child at bedtime is an overtired child because instead of producing melatonin (the sleepy hormone) their body begins to produce cortisol (the wake hormone) in an attempt to stay awake. So, that second wind you see happening is actually your child's body saying it NEEDS sleep. To avoid this second wind, shift bedtime 30-60 minutes EARLIER. Avoiding the second wind will help your little one settle and fall asleep much more quickly because melatonin levels will much higher and a their body is ready for sleep!
Implement a simple, soothing bedtime routine.
A consistent and predictable bedtime routine is a great cue for your child that sleep is coming. Keep it simple, about 20-30 minutes, and focus low-stimulation to help your child wind down and settle in to bed for the night. A simple routine helps your child (especially older children) wind down from the day and make the shift between play time and sleep time. Rememebr, we want to get them in bed before they are overtired, so the key is to keep it at 30 minutes or less to avoid that overtired zone! Aim for their bedtime routine to begin at least 30 minutes before they need to be IN bed.
Bonus Tip: In the last 2 minutes of your routine, add in a "last call" option. This is your child's chance to ask for any last minute things they normally use to stall. If they need a drink of water or one last potty trip - this is their chance!
Set clear limits and expectations.
Communicating expectations so your child knows and understands exactly what will happen is so important. Take some time to sit down with your child and set clear limits of what you expect at bedtime AND exactly how many times you will return to their room after lights out. 1-2 visits is a reasonable amount. Once you've reached the limit - STICK TO IT. No more returning after the limit is reached. Allow your child space to fall asleep on their own. Separation anxiety and nighttime fears can sometimes be a driving factor for curtain calls. Setting clear, predictable expectations and remaining consistent will help put your child at ease. If you have an older child that needs a night-light, opt for something with a red light, rather than blue or yellow lights. This is less likely to disrupt sleep.
Children learn quickly when parents are very clear with expectations and stick to it. Your consistency will bring them a sense of control and security, giving them the confidence to fall asleep on their own without calling out for mom or dad.
Have you struggled with trying to figure out a sleep schedule for your child? I am here for you! Contact me to schedule a free 15 minute Introductory call.