Ahh, bedtime. The sweetest yet most challenging time of the day for most parents. You are longing for some much needed down time, but it takes some finagling to get your little tikes to sleep like cherubs. It can be frustrating when kids decline your requests to pipe down and relax. Of course everyone from your sister to your mother-in-law has a tip or a secret to lulling them asleep like some kind of pied piper, but alas, none of it seems to work for you. Sometimes the trick is not what you need to do, but instead what you need to avoid doing. Here are a few seemingly harmless things that can keep your kids up all night.
Blunder #1-You Bundle Them Up
Many parents want to ensure that their kids keep warm through the night so they dress them in flannel, crank up the heat and pile on the blankets. Even if your practice is not this extreme, keeping your child too warm can hinder a good night sleep. Most children sleep best in a slightly cool environment. If you are concerned about them catching a chill, just make sure that that their hair is dry and your thermostat is at a comfortable level. Other than that, dress them in PJs that are suitable for the season and use a light blanket.
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Blunder #2- You Keep Them Up Too Late
It seems like common sense that if you let your kids get nice and tired that they would knock out pretty easily, right? Wrong. Kids experience a slap-happy(yet extremely cranky) feeling when they stay up longer than they should. There is a golden window of sleepiness where most kids will go konk out if put to bed at that time. For my kids it is 8:30 pm. If I try to send them to bed any earlier and they are still jumping around, any later and they whine and cry about everything (and they can stay up whining and crying for a surprising long time!). To figure out your child’s magical sleep number, just keep an eye for yawns and lack of energy and get them to bed within 30 minutes. My boys get really cuddly when they want to go to sleep.
Blunder#3- You Shun Routine
No one like to feel like they are doing the same things over and over, but there are some instances where being in a rut is a good thing. A consistent bedtime routine is the single most important thing that you can do to help your kids establish healthy sleeping habits. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out; just a series of things that happen at the same time, in the same order every night. This helps kids ease into the fact that bedtime is coming so that by the time you tuck them in, they have accepted it.