Ah, the eternal bedtime struggle. There are nights when it feels like I spend hours trying to get my daughter just to lay her head on her pillow. Luckily, throughout this sleep battle journey, I’ve found a few methods that have helped my household get better shut-eye. Fingers crossed they do the trick for your family, too. Sweet dreams!
Routine, routine, routine
We all know how important a solid routine is for infants. Don’t forget to keep up the habit through toddlerhood and beyond. Doctors agree structure and repetition are essential for kids to feel safe, and an inconsistent bedtime can even bring about jet-lag like symptoms in children. Find a routine that works for your kids and stick with it. In our house, that means bath, brush teeth, books and lights out before 8 PM.
Kids need a wind down before bedtime, and we’ve found yoga has had positive results for our daughter. I don’t expect her to master complex positions, but breathing techniques and stretches are easy enough for young kids to handle. Cosmo Kids on YouTube has become a favorite since the instructor incorporates storylines from kid’s movies and shows into some of her videos. (Yep, “Trolls” yoga is totally a thing. Who knew?)
Have them eat a banana
As kooky as it sounds, bananas may be the key to more restful sleep. The reason? The fruit contains magnesium and potassium, which are natural muscle relaxants and also help us produce melatonin and serotonin in our brains. If your kids are wanting a pre-bedtime snack, bananas seem like a solid option for keeping their tummies full and their brains sleepy.
Weighted blankets are known to be effective for adults with insomnia and anxiety since they quite literally feel like you’re being hugged all night long. It makes sense that the blankets would be soothing for kids, too, especially little ones who struggle with separation from their parents. Kids with ADHD, autism and sensory disorders have also experienced better sleep by using the blankets. Here are a few highly rated weighted blankets from Amazon.
We live off of a busy street, so white noise at bedtime has become a must for the entire family. Science backs me up on the power of white noise, too. Studies show it helps create a barrier from sounds that are disruptive (like car horns blaring or a door slamming) to and keeps us sleeping deeply. If you have light sleepers in your family, download an ambient noise app on your tablet or consider investing in a sound machine (both are super helpful when traveling, too!).
While the jury is still out on the science behind essential oils, no one can deny the power that certain smells can have on the brain. Use a lavender-scented kid’s soap at bathtime or put a few drops of the oil into a diffuser to help kids ease into sleep. Chamomile and mandarin are also known to have soothing effects on children. Although these oils are generally regarded as safe for kids, consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
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This article originally published on Oct. 30, 2018. It has been updated with the most recent information.