Can I encourage my child to sleep longer at night?

Mother and daughter reading

Make sure your baby is ready for sleep by providing fresh air and stimulation every day. As you begin to learn about your baby, you will develop a pattern for daytime routines that will lead naturally to bedtime. Use the crib for nighttime sleep. While your baby is still awake, put your baby in the crib so that he/she learns to fall asleep without you.

Why won’t my baby go to sleep as easily as before?

Your baby is able to stay awake on purpose at around eight months of age even when he/she is tired. Another reason is that sometime between six and ten months most babies go through a period of not wanting to be without their mother and can become very clingy. That is why it is a good idea to put your baby into his/her crib at night while he/she is still awake.

How can I stop my pre-schooler from making bedtime an all night affair?

Pre-schoolers do not want to miss anything that happens. Consider an appropriate bedtime and make it as part of the daily routine. Be sure you and your partner both participate in the establishment of the routine and support each other in making it successful. Keep the time consistent by telling your child 30 minutes before time to go to sleep. Make part of the routine reading favorite books, getting water, and saying good night to family members within 30 minutes. You may want to consider that “bedtime” means either ” lights out” or allows your child to look at a book and have the lights out later.

My toddler doesn’t go to bed until 10 p.m. Why does she go to bed so late?

If your toddler has taken a long nap each day, it may be that your toddler is not tired enough when you try to put him/her to bed. As your toddler grows, he/she may need less sleep during the day. Try to avoid late-afternoon naps. You may also encourage a morning nap rather than an afternoon nap as a better alternative for daytime sleeping. Your toddler still needs to get at least 10- 12 hours each night.

My child goes to child care each day and when he/she comes home he/she is tired, but cannot go to sleep. What can I do?

Your child has had a busy day, just like you. He/she needs to be able to have time with you to talk and share the day, but try not to over-stimulate him/her. Have a consistent routine for bedtime, ending the day with low-key activities. He/she needs to know that he/she is not missing anything. Make sure that you balance the week with activities with him/her on weekends.

How can I help my toddler go to sleep?

A toddler’s bedroom should be a place that is welcoming. You should have a bedtime routine that includes reading a story. Once your toddler is in the crib, continue the usual routine in the house. The household noises reassure your toddler that everything is normal. Before bedtime, avoid arguments and punishments, as well as scary stories, television programs or videos. As soon as you put your toddler in the crib, do not pay any attention to the murmurs of protest. Many toddlers want to stay up longer. Remember you know best as the parent.

How can I make my baby comfortable and safe at bedtime?

Make sure that he/she has correct bedding; depending on the temperature she needs one or two blankets. Add or take away layers as needed. Until he/she is a year old, avoid comforters, pillows and soft mattresses. Any of these can cause babies to overheat or interfere with breathing. It is important that your baby to sleep with his/her feet at the base of the crib. This will prevent her from sliding down and getting covered with bed linen. Continue putting your baby down on her back to sleep until she is about six months old.

What can I do when my child has a nightmare?

A child who has a nightmare usually wakes up screaming or crying. It is especially common among children between 3 and 4 years. Your child may tell you about the dream or that he/she had a bad dream. Nightmares reflect something that your child has heard or seen such as a scary story or video.

Bedtime battle

If you have a difficult time getting your child to go to bed at night, the first step is to figure out why your child says, “But I’m not tired!” Is he/she in need of more attention? Scared of the dark? Feeling the need to show independence? Maybe he/she really isn’t tired. Your child may be a “night owl.”

Ideas to ease the bedtime routine are:

Handle fears: Talk about your child’s fears and explain that you won’t let anything happen to him or her. Let him or her keep her door open a crack, and keep the hall light on.

Set routines: Give your child at least a half-hour to relax and get ready to go to bed. Comforting rituals include taking baths and reading bedtime stories. Your child’s sense of security will increase if you follow a nightly routine.

Establish a consistent bedtime: Once you choose a bedtime that will give your child enough sleep (11 to 12 hours is the typical amount of sleep needed by a 3-5 year-old), be sure to enforce it. Everybody benefits from a regular sleep schedule.

Remind your child of the rules: Be kind but firm about bedtime. Don’t get involved in arguments about why you think bedtime should be at 8 p.m. and why your child thinks it should be at 9 p.m.. Stick to the time you’ve set. If you often give in to your child and let him or her stay up later, you will find yourself caught in a nightly power struggle.

Give more attention. Help your child look forward to bedtime as a special time to be together. Read a bedtime story or have a good talk.