It's been a long day. The kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes, you have to get the dog, feed the cat, and you have not even had a little time to sit down and rest a bit. However, instead of finishing the tasks of the day and then being able to enjoy a few moments of rest with your partner, you enter and leave without stopping your child's room, trying to convince him to fall asleep. Until he finally falls into a deep sleep...three hours later.
Sounds familiar? You cannot imagine how many parents like you go through the same situation night after night. Having children fall asleep is one of the most difficult tasks for parents. Even the best of parents occasionally face some battles when getting children to bed. In fact, up to a third of children seem to have some kind of difficulty sleeping well.
Experts have identified six frequent mistakes that parents make regarding their children's nighttime rest. The good thing is that these errors can be corrected with relative ease. Parents confirm that with just a few simple changes in routine and environment of children can prevent and correct a lot of sleep problems.
Once you reach your goal i.e. when your child falls asleep at the right time and stays asleep through the night, not only will you have a happier and more rested child, but also a happier and more rested family! Here are some things that you, as a parent, should definitely NOT do when you're putting your children to bed.
16 Don't Allow Those Late Night Shenanigans
School-age children generally sleep at least an hour less every night than children who used to sleep a century ago. Likewise, today's children sleep less than how much their parents slept when they were in their young years. This pattern of constantly reducing sleep isn't only harmful, but it also invokes constant bedtime battles and sleeping difficulties as children stealthily wake up in the middle of the night.
Allowing infants and young children go to bed too late becomes a nuisance later on for parents. It’s weird to say when it’s apparent that your toddler is too tired to stay up anymore, he still manages to escape the bed effectively. Parents often wonder, what’s happening? It often happens that when children are too tired they get restless. This shouldn’t come as a surprise for parents. But once they get to bed in this state, it doesn’t take much time for them to fall into their slumber.
15 Don't Let The Routine Get Out Of Hand
It’s better for parents to make a fixed routine for their little ones who don’t realize how important sleep really is to them. Luckily, they have awesome parents like you who know that. Imposing a fixed time to go to bed, and frequent napping during the day helps keep your child stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Do not wait until your son is rubbing his eyes, yawning and whining, because by now he will probably be too tired and too late. Lay them down before this happens. To avoid power battles, you as a parent should be convincing enough that your child easily listens to you and understands why their parents are compelling them to sleep. There must be some benefit, wouldn't it?
At night, babies and toddlers usually need 12 hours of sleep, preschoolers need up to 13 hours, and older children should sleep 10 to 11 hours a day. Calculate what hours you have to wake them up and put them to bed at the right time to get enough sleep.
14 Don't Waste Time Playing Catch Me If You Can
As your child enjoys the time that passes by your side very much, he will do everything possible to prolong it, according to Baby Center. Do not be surprised if your child takes all the time in the world to prepare to go to bed, asks you ten times for a glass of water or does not stop calling you to your room because they need something more.
If you suspect that your child is doing it deliberately, do not allow it. Tell him it's bedtime and he can finish his drawing tomorrow or keep looking for his stuffed bunny when he wakes up.
If you want, prepare in advance everything your child usually asks (and be reasonable) and add these things to your night routine. Fill a glass of water before you go to bed and tell her to put it on the bedside table, remind him once again that he has to pee before bed. Give her many kisses and extra hugs that last his comfort all night.
All parents are relieved to see that their baby finally falls asleep on his infant swing or in the car seat. This usually happens when we least expect it, and when we need it the most! But some moms and dads fall into the trap of using movement as a way to sleep their little children. If a child always sleeps with some form of movement (in his stroller or car seat) he is probably not reaching the deepest and most restorative phase of sleep due to the movement-induced stimulus. Motion-induced sleep is not much different than the type of sleep adults experience when traveling by plane.
It’s indeed true that motion can help a baby fall asleep but once the baby gets used to it, every time he wants to get high, he’ll cry out loud so that the parents will pick him up, cradle him until he falls into his comfy nap. Now it’s important to note that motion helps calm down a baby but it’s not very beneficial in the long run for making a baby fall asleep.
12 Don't Over-Cradle
Before you despair yourself of thinking that you are going to have to get rid of your baby's musical swing, listen to this. It is okay to use the movement to reassure a child whose constant crying has become irritable, but once the baby has fallen asleep, you ought to park the carousel. This may seem like a big crime at first and the parent will keep thinking “what if he wakes up?” If the baby has fallen into his cozy nap, he will sleep a much better-quality sleep than if he were sleeping in your arms. Do not feel guilty, however, if during a drive your little one decides to take a nap, let him enjoy his rest and you take advantage of those moments of silence.
If the baby has fallen into his cozy nap, he will sleep a much better-quality sleep than if he were sleeping in your arms. Do not feel guilty, however, if during a drive your little one decides to take a nap, let him enjoy his rest and you take advantage of those moments of silence. Most importantly, ask yourself whether you want to over-cradle your baby so that he becomes so used to it that whenever you're not around to hold him, he bursts into tears. If you want to become that vulnerable, well... it's your choice!
11 Don't Forget To Offer Bedtime Options
This is the stage of development when your child begins to test the limits of their independence. Don't be surprised if you encounter a tinge of craziness during your daily routine. Since children feel that parents are gaining more and more control over their world, you as a parent should let them choose some of the things they would prefer at bedtime, from the story that they want you to read or the pajamas they prefer to put on. This helps them feel that even if their independence is being breached in one way, they are also being provided with sufficient leeway to express themselves however they want. This helps tame the rebellious attitude that might rouse up in them otherwise.
The trick is to offer only two or three alternatives and make sure they all look good. For example, do not ask "Do you want to go to bed now?", because you may say no, and this answer would not be acceptable to you. However, if you ask him, "Do you want to bed now or in five minutes?" You give him the choice, but you win in one way or another.
10 Don't Overdo It With Fancy Crib Decorations
First things first, please remove that colored mobile from your baby's crib. Such an entertaining motive with its rotating dolls and colorful lights can distract him too much; and if a toddler has too many toys looming over his head, he would definitely get distracted and miss out on his sleeping time. You do want your child to get enough sleep don't you? Removing those toys above your baby is your way to go.
Infants and young children are often still too young to have developed night-time fears for dark rooms. To cater to this fear, parents should create some background noise in the neighboring room. Turn on a fan or a white noise machine which makes sounds like interference on a TV. This makes the young one content that there’s no need to fear. In addition, this swooshing noise actually helps them fall asleep. Don’t believe me? Google the latest research!
9 Don't Mistake Bedtime For Playtime
Usually, children are afraid of the boogeyman who'll come visit them at night. This can become a major hindrance for your child's sleep. As a result, most parents feel compelled to share the bed with their children to ensure that they have a good nights rest. But that can only last for so much. Inevitably, the child has to return to their bed. So parents think that it would be wise to install a distraction for their child so that he or she doesn't get scared at night. This is where they are wrong!
For older children, you can leave a night light on if they are afraid of the dark, but do not allow them any form of entertainment in bed. Think carefully before installing a television or computer in your children's room. Even children who fall asleep watching their favorite DVDs are probably losing about half an hour of valuable sleep, and this could affect their mood and behavior the next morning. It is also much easier not to have electronic devices in your son's room rather than to negotiate every night how long they can watch TV.
8 Don't Ever Lose Your Calm
Do not give in when your child insists that you make an exception and allow this or that before bedtime. If you are tired or frustrated, try not to engage in a power war. Speak calmly without raising your voice and make your little one understand that when the time to play is finished, it is over with and done. If you give in to their pleas for "only five more minutes" even one time, you will repeat it a number of times in the future.
If your child starts to throw a tantrum, investigate if there is anything that is frightening at bedtime. Put on a little night lamp and do a "monster check" to make them feel safer and calmer.
If it's simply a tantrum, remind him quietly that it's bedtime, and if he stays quiet in his bed, you'll be back in a few minutes. Make sure you keep your promise. If they continue to cry, wait a little longer each time you return to their room.
7 Don't Skip Out On The Night Routine
You might think your little baby does not need to follow a nightly routine before bedtime, such as bathing, listening to a bedtime story or a soothing lullaby. However, this series of quiet and pleasant activities before turning off the lights is very important because they prepare your child to fall into deep sleep, as Parents Magazine suggests.
Sometimes the parents of older children abandon their old night routines by mistakenly believing that their child is too old for that, or because they themselves are too tired to do so. But the truth is that even adults benefit when they get used to following a routine that helps them calm down and relax at night. So don't skip out on the night routine. If you hate it that bad, then start skipping out on it step by step so that it's not too abrupt for your child to adapt to this void.
6 Stick To Rituals
You cannot expect a child who has had a busy day simply turn off the lights and go to sleep. In addition, according to studies, it is demonstrably clear that school-age children who do not have a nightly routine do not get the sleep they need. A quiet ritual is a mandatory must for both the children and the parents. You know as they say “Never miss a good chance to shut up”.
No matter how old your child is, what's important is to follow a series of predictable steps that will help you relax at the end of the day. For a baby, the routine could be simply changing the diaper, putting on his pajamas and lulling him for a while. With a toddler, the routine might include a bath, read a story, sing a song or pray. The ideal ritual for you will be the one you choose. What matters is that you are able to do carry it out consistently, in the same place, in the same order and at about the same time every night.
5 Don't Lose Consistency
A couple of times a week, on the days when your toddler is most awful, you lie down next to him in his bed until he falls asleep. Or maybe you make him sleep in his bed, but you let him get his way in the middle of the night. The problem is not in the method of sleeping it, but in the lack of constancy to put it into practice. Some parents do not mind sharing the bed with their children, but others end up with a “family bed" against their will.
Perhaps the first two times that the child gets up at night, the parents put him back in bed, but when he gets back in at 3 in the morning they are too tired to get up again and let him stay. This situation creates the so-called "intermittent reinforcement". That is, it teaches the child to persist, as he learns that sooner or later he will get what he wants.
4 Don't Forget To Shape Healthy Habits
A good habit is for parents to determine where their child can and cannot sleep. Although it is much better to decide in advance whether or not you allow your children to share your bed, it is never too late to set standards. If your 3-year-old starts to get up in the middle of the night and gets into your bed, explain the rules clearly and take him back to his bed. Of course, there are some exceptions. If you are sick or the noises of a storm frighten you, reconsider staying with him in his bed for a while or even sleeping in his room. But return to your normal routine as soon as your child feels better or the storm is over.
Good habits most often than not, have to be shaped especially among children. Children don't know what's good for them. They just like being in the spur of the moment, without giving much thought to what their actions might have in store for them later on. But they can learn quite quickly as well, and it falls on the parents' shoulders to teach them how they should manage.
3 Don't Be Afraid Of Setting Rules
Of course, once your little boy has enjoyed the comfort of sleeping with mom and dad, he will protest when he has to return to his own bed. In that case, it’s recommended that you eliminate your presence little by little. The first two or three nights you can, for example, wait near the door of the child's room until he falls asleep, instead of demanding that from the next day he must go back to sleep alone.
Sending the child to bed as a mode of punishment is a frequent mistake that parents make. This makes your child treat the bed as a 'bad' thing even after seeing how much we adults adore it. Creating a sleep routine for the child implies not only when the child should go to sleep, but also when he or she should wake up in the morning. This systematic routine would then become second-nature for your child and he will be completely comfortable going to bed early given how early he woke up in the morning. Having fixed schedules will make it easier for the child to accept without protest to go to bed at his time.
2 Don't Go Between Bed And Crib
When your child turns 2 years old, maybe you want to celebrate by buying that little bed you saw on offer the other day. But as soon as you move the child from his old cradle to the new bed, difficulties might start to arise.
By the age of 3, many children are not yet ready to leave their cribs. They do not have the cognitive development nor the level of self-control needed to stay within the imaginary barriers of their bed. That is, your crib has visible limits in the form of handrails, but for a young child to understand that he has to stay "inside" a bed, he must be able to clearly understand that the edges of the bed represent the "barriers" which must not be transgressed.
Your child's crib becomes solace for him and definitely not easy for him to leave so casually. Therefore, moving your baby from his beloved crib to an alien bed that's used by adults may not be acceptable to them.
1 Don't Jump The Gun
Wait until your child is ready to sleep on a large bed. You need not rush things through if you know your child is not ready yet. When your child is almost 3 years old, it may be that he is ready to replace his crib by a large bed. But remember, this is not a rule-of-thumb at all. Some kids don't leave their crib until five or even when they are seven.
However, if the toddler still struggles to stay in the new bed, there’s no rush, try again later. If the change does not work out, there's no problem going back. In time, your little boy will be able to sleep in a big bed and he may even ask for it himself. But this will not happen overnight so drop those expectations and let your baby go at his own pace. Remember, no child would want to continue sleeping in their crib forever, and even if they do, they would hardly fit in by then.