Convincing a kid who doesn't want to sleep to lie down and rest can seem borderline impossible. Rest assured, though, it can be done.
Here are eight genius tips for hacking bedtime and getting your child to get some z's without a ton of hassle (so that you can too).
1. Make Falling Asleep a Family Affair
Sometimes kids don't want to go to bed because they don't want to miss out on the perceived fun of being awake with the family, which is why some parenting writers and bloggers employ this technique. If the whole family is going to bed (or at least winding down), your kids might have an easier time believing that it really is better for them to catch some z's.
2. Create a Bedtime Routine
Whether that routine includes bath time, story time, brushing teeth, or what, having every night begin and end in a predetermined order with activities at specific times will only help your kids adapt. Studies have proven that daily routines can help child development, and if your kids fall asleep at similar times (or ideally, the same time) every night, their bodies will get used to it, and it won't take so long in the future.
3. Wind Down
Winding down before bed means leaving all frenzied or caffeine-induced activities for the hours before your kids' bedtime routine begins. As many parents know, kids will often take their cues from you, so for the few hours before you'd like your child to sleep, make sure any and all activities are relaxing and not hyperactive, or you might end up with overexcited little ones.
4. Pay Attention to the Room Temperature
If the room is too hot or too cold, your child might be uncomfortable. Baby Center reports that a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 to 22 degrees Celsius) is ideal for toddler-aged kids.
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5. Get Rid of Distractions
While it might seem impossible to get rid of every single possible distraction, it is possible to side skirt the two big ones—bright lights and electronics. Make sure electronics are put away and not within reach of your child's bed, because as ScienceLife at the University of Chicago reports, screen time can unintentionally keep them awake longer than you might like.
It's also helpful to make sure the lighting is dim or completely dark (whichever your child is more comfortable with), and that there are no overt loud noises that can be distracting, like your television booming right outside of the kids' room.
6. If your kids are clingy, try giving them a security object
If being alone at bedtime is in any way scary for your kids, a security item—such as a blanket or stuffed animal—could work wonders.
7. Don't give into too many "one last thing" requests
Let's face it, sometimes kids just don't want to go to bed because they're stubborn. If your child keeps asking you for one last thing—just one more cup of water, one more bathroom break, one more hug, one more book—you have to have the willpower to cut them off, or you might be up a lot later than you'd like to be. As NPR reiterates, stick to the routine you built, and eventually, it will get easier as your kids adjust.
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8. Turn on white noise
If you've got a fan, turn it on to help overpower external sounds and help create a calmer environment. You can also buy white noise CDs or songs to play during bedtime, which might help your child sleep better.