Getting children to fall asleep at bedtime can be a struggle for many parents. Kids often fight sleep or have trouble winding down, leading to delayed bedtimes and grumpy mornings. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine and using certain tricks can help kids relax and drift off to sleep more easily. Here are 12 tips for getting kids to fall asleep faster.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Having a regular bedtime and wake time 7 days a week is key for regulating kids’ sleep-wake cycles. Stick as close as you can to the same times for bed and waking up, even on weekends and holidays. This helps cue their bodies that it’s time to sleep.
2. Create a calming bedtime routine
Do the same sequence of relaxing activities for 30-60 minutes before bed each night. This could include taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading books, listening to music, and dimming the lights. The predictability helps kids unwind their bodies and minds.
3. Make the bedroom comfortable for sleep
Keep the bedroom dark, cool and quiet. Blackout curtains or an eye mask can block excess light. A white noise machine, fan or softly playing music helps dampen disruptive household sounds. Having a comfortable mattress and bedding also contributes to better sleep.
4. Avoid screens before bedtime
Power down all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from screens overstimulates the brain and interferes with our natural sleep hormones. Read a physical book or do another non-screen activity.
5. Give a light snack
A very small snack right before bedtime, like a glass of milk and a few crackers, helps prevent tummy rumbles from waking kids up. But don’t allow big meals close to bedtime, which can be disruptive.
6. Take a warm bath
Taking a warm (not hot) bath 1-2 hours before bed relaxes the body and helps lower core temperature. This temperature drop cues the brain that it’s time for bed. Add some bath toys or read a book in the tub for fun.
7. Massage with lotion
Give your child a gentle rub down with lotion or baby oil to soothe and relax muscles. Use smooth, slow strokes concentrating on arms, legs, back, hands and feet. Just 10-15 minutes can do the trick.
8. Try essential oils
Certain essential oils are known to have a calming effect. Lavender and Roman chamomile oils are two good options. Put a few drops into a diffuser, on bedding or on a tissue near the pillow.
9. Avoid active play before bed
Roughhousing, chasing games and other boisterous activities right before bed make it harder for kids to settle down. Quieter activities are better in the hour leading up to bedtime.
10. Read bedtime stories
Reading a book together in bed is a soothing habit that many parents already practice. Just a few stories can help calm the mind and ease the transition into sleep.
11. Sing lullabies
Softly singing or playing recordings of lullabies relaxes kids and gets them primed for sleep. Gentle tunes work best rather than lively or stimulating songs.
12. Be patient but firm
Set the expectation that lights go out at the scheduled time. If your child resists, don’t over-negotiate or get upset. Calmly but consistently put them to bed. With time, they will get used to the routine.
Establishing healthy sleep habits takes time but the key is consistency. Use these tips to help make bedtime easier and get your kids to fall asleep faster without as much fuss. Sweet dreams!