You CAN teach your kids to sleep.
I have often heard of parents who get up with their child several times a night because of crying or whining or just plain getting out of bed to play.
My heart goes out to them when I see their red eyes, short tempers and woebegone faces. I’m talking about the moms!
I truly want to help them but I seldom offer advice unless asked. I don’t want to be one of those “know it alls” who seem to have an answer for everything. So to those of you who know me…if you want advice, you will have to ask!
But peeps…I have the answer here.
Wanna know how to get your child to sleep through the night and to stay in bed until you tell them they can get up?
Here you go…
- Have a regular bed time. Don’t negotiate and don’t argue. State it. Stick to it. Don’t allow arguing or bargaining. This applies for babies all the way to teens. Someone recently commented on one of my parenting tips posts that if their kids argue about going to bed, the next day they have “practice” bedtimes during their favorite shows the next day. Get creative!
- Be sure to remind them just before bedtime. “Hey guys, in a half an hour it’s bedtime.” Nobody likes to quit what they are doing – this will help them to mentally prepare.
- Have a routine. We always did jammies, brush teeth, prayer circle, hugs goodnight and then bed.
- Check on them regularly until there is no question that bed time is bed time. Let them see you checking on them. Be consistent. When our sibgroup of 3 girls moved in we took turns sitting outside their door until they went to sleep. If they knew we were out there, they didn’t move a muscle. Establish a habit.
- Put books at the end of their bed for morning. Tell them that if they wake up early, to just read quietly till you come to get them. If you hear them in the mornings talking or getting out of bed, go remind them and put them back in bed and tell them to stay until you get them up. Be consistent.
- If they wake in the night, go in their room and tell them you are there and to go back to sleep. If they continue fussing, go in every 15 minutes the first night. Reassure them by telling them you are there and to go back to sleep. Touch them to let the know you are there but DON’T pick them up or let them get out of bed.
- Within a few days if not sooner, your child will begin to sleep longer and eventually all night. Continue to require obedience in the mornings. Be consistent.
I have taught all my babies to sleep through the night by 4 months.
Here are a few baby specific tips:
- When they are newborn, they need the nutrition, so don’t plan to teach them to sleep through the night early on.
- When you do get them up to feed them, don’t change their diaper unless it is messy or they are soaked. Changing them awakens them completely and you’ll have a wide awake baby ready to play if you do. Part of teaching them to sleep is wrapped up in what you do from the beginning.
- Never let little ones cry a long time without reassuring them. Those who call out for mom whether through crying or words and get no answer learn that adults will not care for them. This is how we get kids with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).
- Always make sure that there are not extenuating circumstances. If you know they are fed, clean and dry, comfortable, not sick or afraid, then you know their waking is just a matter of habit. Work at teaching them to sleep. Work at getting to know your child so you will know.
- Always put them to bed in a reassuring way. Babies and kids in general need to go to sleep after a pleasant interaction with their care givers. I have known of moms who throw their kids in bed or yell at them to get them to obey. This is not what sweet dreams are made of. Be kind but firm.
- If you put them to bed with a pacifier, bottle or nurse them to sleep you are asking for trouble. It may be easy to start with, but you will become a slave to the habit. I knew of a parent that several times a night would have to crawl around on the floor looking for the pacifier in the dark.
If you begin praying with them before bedtime early on, you and your child will get in the habit of pleasant bed time experiences and their mind will be on how God cares for them rather than thinking about being alone in the dark.
Some of my best memories are of our prayer circle.
We had a wide hallway just outside the kids’ bedrooms. We’d send them all in to get jammies on and brush their teeth. One by one they’d come to sit down with us, waiting for the others to finish.
There was a lot of chatting, tickling and hugging going on during the few minutes of waiting. Then when all were sitting down on the floor in a circle, one by one they would pray. It was precious.
This accomplished 5 things: No messing around or fighting while getting ready for bed. We made sure they brushed their teeth and put their clothes away. We were all together as a family at the close of the day. It was a happy time rather than the kids feeling like they were missing out on something by going to bed.
How about you? What do you do to make bedtime stress free? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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