The Early Learning Institute (TELI) | 07.11 |

How Can Bedtime Rituals Help Your Child Sleep?

Nathan Sharbaugh, Occupational TherapistIn the first of our series, “Does your child have problems sleeping?”  teli’s Pediatric Occupational Therapist Nathan Sharbaugh, provided information the importance of sleep for your child.  In this edition Nathan has some further suggestions on the importance of bedtime rituals to help both you and your toddler or child prepare for a peaceful night’s sleep!

“The single most important tool in getting your child to sleep is to establish a consistent calming nighttime routine,” recommends Nathan. “Children respond to a routine, and with consistent practice, begin to accept and almost expect that bedtime ritual going forward.”

Here are some of Nathan’s most popular bedtime rituals he has provided to parents of children experiencing sleep problems:

  • Stick to a Schedule – A consistent routine at bedtime is important to help a child prepare to wind down and get ready for bed.
  • Activity During the Day – Keep your child active physically throughout the day so their body is ready for sleep
  • Comfort – Be sure their bed and PJ’s are comfortable
  • Tech Free Zone – Your child should not use iPads, watch TV or use other electronics within 90 minutes of bedtime
  • Reduce Clutter – Involve your child in a quick clean up in their bedroom to signal an end to a day and a preparation for a new day in the morning.
  • Calming Activities – A gentle massage to a child’s back and feet, quiet play and a bedtime story or two to begin the transition to relaxation. Tucking in their stuffed animals for the night can also help.
  • Calming Environment – Cool room temperature, soft music and lighting from a small night light if your child is not comfortable in a dark environment can “set the mood”. Blue light from electronic screens should be avoided.
  • Light Nighttime Snack – Light snacks such as milk or fruit that is easily digested is perfect. Be sure to avoid foods that contain caffeine, chocolate for example, or significant amounts of refined sugar.  A glass of water in reach may also be a good idea.

Being consistent with bedtime rituals is a doable, proactive step toward helping your child with sleep problems sleep better!

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