Make bedtime with the kids easier and better with a simple bedtime routine and these 10 easy tips and ways to help kids fall asleep at night.
10 Ways to Help Kids Fall Asleep
Bedtime. It used to be my most dreaded chore of the day. Not only are the kids exhausted by bedtime, but I am too. Then there’s the whining, the tantrums, and the dawdling, and the fact that the kids are moving so slowly toward the direction of their bedroom that they may as well be moving backward. AND THEN, after you finally get those tired kiddos in bed, comes the stalling, and the chatting, and the mysterious only-at-bedtime thirst. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
But trust me when I say, it doesn’t have to be that hard! We’ve changed up our evenings, made a bedtime routine, and bedtime has become (mostly) smooth sailing (Although, I have to warn you… I have not been able to rid them of the mysterious only-at-bedtime thirst…). I want bedtime to be a happy and peaceful time, and so does Orajel™, so I’m very excited to partner with them to bring you these 10 Ways to Help Kids Fall Asleep to make bedtime easier for everyone.
10 Ways to Help Kids Fall Asleep
1. Watch what they eat and drink – Limit sugary foods, juices, and treats before bed, including sugar-rich carbs like fruits. Stick to protein-rich foods for dinner (that will keep them fuller for longer), with veggies and water. Save sugary juice and fruits for lunch or early snacks.
2. Turn off the TV – End television time at least 2 hours before bedtime. A study published in the AAP journal of Pediatrics† has shown that kids exposed to television in the last 90 minutes before they go to bed, have a much more difficult time winding down asleep. We have “TV days” three times per week, where the kids are allowed to watch television in the afternoon, but the TV always goes off at 4 o’clock to make sure the kids don’t have a hard time winding down at bedtime.
3. Read a story – Reading a story before bed is a great “calm down” activity. But even more than that, it provides the family with a unique and consistent bonding activity. No matter how crazy or busy the day was, the children will have your full, undivided attention as you sit down and read aloud to them. World Read Aloud Day was just last month on February 24, so we participated by adding in a morning reading slot and I let them each choose an extra book at bedtime.
Reading aloud to children is also a way to encourage brain development and introduce a wide vocabulary at a young age, preparing them to read better on their own in the future. Reading to your children each day is one of the best and easiest ways to both bond with and encourage brain development in children, so make sure you notch out a daily time slot (or more!) for reading together. There are lots of ways to get started with this remarkable experience, like Scholastic’s Read2Me Tonight resource which you can find here. We read The Three Bees together for our Read2Me Tonight Challenge entry, and you can get it for free by clicking here. Or for some more exciting reading suggestions, definitely check out the 100 BEST Read Aloud Books List here. Scholastic and Orajel™ are even running a really fun Read2Me Tonight Challenge right now (which I’ll talk to you more about in a minute so keep reading!), where you can actually win the 100 Best Read Aloud Books AND an Orajel™ Paw Patrol™ Brushers Bundle!
4. Limit the rough-housing – Getting them wound up with rough-housing, wrestling, tickle fights, or dance parties before bed, is a bad idea. Limit highly physical activities, and opt for calmer ones, like reading a story, snuggling, talking, or even coloring.
5. But DO keep them physically and mentally active during the day – Even though it’s not a good idea right before bed, kids do still have a lot of energy to burn off during the day. Like a lot. So get in the rough-housing, tickle fights, dance parties, and exploring in the morning and early afternoon, so that their bodies and minds are actually tired and ready for rest at bedtime.
6. Put your child to bed at the right time – Children, even ones that are teenagers, need more sleep than a grown adult because their minds and bodies are still growing. The difficult part is judging when bedtime should be. If you put the kids to bed too early, they won’t be tired enough and won’t go to sleep, but if you put them to bed too late, they’ll be overly tired and have an equally difficult time settling down. Going to bed too late can also cause an over-tired child to wake up too early, so it’s important to nail down the best time for your child and family. For more information on sleep times for kids of all ages, take a look at this sleep chart.
7. Establish a consistent bedtime routine – Our bedtime routine consists of pretty much everything on this list, plus your basic grooming, like shower, potty time, and brushing teeth. We’re loving the Orajel™ PAW Patrol™ toothbrushes and toothpaste right now with our three (yes, three!) preschool-aged kids because it’s a great way to transition to fluoride toothpaste to protect against cavities and keep teeth and gums healthy. The most important thing to remember about bedtime routines is that they be consistent. It’s the best way to make them truly effective. Every night, we go potty, brush our teeth, get our jammies on, and then read some stories together right before bed. Every night. So find a routine that works for your family, and then stick with it.
8. Start the bedtime routine early – If you have kids who dawdle when it’s time to start getting ready for bed, this is the solution you’ve been looking for. Instead of starting the bedtime routine right before bed, start it earlier, like right after dinner. Have them shower, change into their pajamas, and brush their teeth right away, and allow them to play for an hour or two after. If they know that what comes after getting ready for bed is actually playtime, they’ll be more likely to rush through to do the things they want. Then right before bed, read them a story to calm them back down, and make them aware that now it is bedtime.
9. If kids don’t stay in bed, supervise them more closely – We had an issue with our kids actually staying in bed for quite a long time. We’d do our routine. I’d get them in bed, tuck them in, go back downstairs, and listen to them running around the room playing and shouting. So I’d repeat the process, each time losing more of my sanity, until it was the middle of the night and any remaining shards of my sanity were long gone. I asked about it in a mommy group, and someone suggested just staying in there. I didn’t really like the idea since it took my kids hours to go to sleep, and I was sure I would be sitting in the dark nagging at my kids for hours. But, it actually worked. The first week, I was in their room for about 45 minutes each night. After that, as they learned the boundaries and that I was definitely enforcing it, the time grew shorter and shorter. Now I’m in there 15-20 minutes tops at night. I give hugs and kisses, then rub their hair and wait for them to go to sleep, and then leave. Kids are behaving and sleeping, and I am happy and sane!
10. End the day on a positive note – I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to fall asleep after a rough day, when I’ve met a failure or had an argument. Kids are the same way. Even if you’ve had a particularly rough day, tell them you love them and care about them, and that you’re looking forward to a better day tomorrow.
Bedtime can be frustrating, but hopefully with these tips and an amazing and simple bedtime routine, your night will go much more smoothly and peaceful. My experience is that the basics work best. Getting the kids clean and brushing their teeth before bed, and an easy bedtime story should be in every parent’s bedtime essentials checklist!
And right now, if you take a photo of your read aloud time with the kids, you can participate in the Read2Me Tonight Challenge, along with other moms, dads, and caregivers that are doing right with you for a chance to win all 100 BEST Read Aloud Books and an Orajel™ Paw Patrol™ Brushers Bundle!
Just snap a picture or video of you reading aloud to your kids and CLICK HERE to submit it to join in the fun!
† “Presleep Activities and Time of Sleep Onset in Children,” Journal of Pediatrics
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ORAJEL™. The opinions and text are all mine.