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Bedtime Rituals That Work

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Is there a parent alive who doesn't wish bedtime went a little more smoothly? One of the best ways to get kids to settle down and go to sleep is to create a regular bedtime routine, a ritual with Mom and Dad that lets young children know that bedtime is a happy and comforting way to end the day. Babies and young children are creatures of habit, and they enjoy the predictability of a ritual. Performing the same simple tasks before bed each night helps signal that everything is safe and sound, and that it's time to go to sleep. For more about your baby's sleep patterns and needs, click here.

Bedtime Do's and Don'ts

Sleep can be an emotional issue for the whole family. Children are often reluctant to separate from Mom and Dad at the end of the day. They're revved up, and they want to continue the fun. They may also have some fears about being alone in the dark or away from loved ones.

Meanwhile, sleep-deprived parents may be longing for a chance for some shut-eye themselves, or even just some quiet time with each other. On the other hand, parents who have spent a long day at work may crave more time with their children than bedtime allows. Often it's a mix of several feelings, making it a complicated time. Bedtime is hard for parents, too. Here's what you can do to develop bedtime rituals that make sense.

DO: Consider a ritual carefully. Not every bedtime routine will stand the test of time. Once something becomes established in your child's mind, she'll come to expect it — and do you really want to sing the entire soundtrack to "The Lion King" night after night? Choose your rituals carefully, or you may regret them. Some good, time-tested rituals to consider:

  • A warm bath, then some snuggle time in clean jammies.
  • Reading a favorite book or listening to soothing music.
  • A favorite song, sung by Mom, Dad, or the whole family.
  • Being tucked in tight.
  • A gentle back rub.

DO: Be consistent.Have a fairly firm bedtime and a predictable order of events. Toddlers will benefit from a reminder about half an hour ahead of time, then another about 10 minutes before bedtime. Springing bedtime on them suddenly will only make them more reluctant to give up their current activity. Make sure the ritual takes place in their own room or sleeping areas, too.

DO: Keep activity low-key. Don't overstimulate your child right before bed. For a baby, clear out the mounds of stuffed animals from the crib. Removing toys will signal that it's time to quiet down. For an older child, no roughhousing or watching TV before bed.

 
 

 
 
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Member comments

bedtime rituals
I totally agree with the article. I give my one month a nice bath and then I feed him. After I read ..

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