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The 3 “Must-Follow” Rules For Baby’s Bedtime Routine

happy funny baby laughing and bathed in bathAh, bedtime. The exhausted parent’s least favorite time of day. The whining, the negotiating, the delays, the tantrums— and all of this when most parents just want to sit back and relax with a book and some herbal tea (or a big glass of wine).

It’s hard to be a perfect bedtime parent when you’ve been taking care of a demanding toddler or preschooler all day. Even the most structured households can start to unravel when it’s time to get those kids into bed. It’s easy to lose your patience with a tired and unreasonable child and it’s really easy to just give in to their demands so you don’t have to deal with endless arguments and tears.

While it might all sound a little hopeless, there’s hope in sight. As with almost everything in parenting, the secret to success is consistency and a good routine. Kids will fall into a healthy bedtime habit when they know exactly what is expected of them. All you need to do is stick to your word and don’t waver, no matter how tempting it is to just give them one more snack or sing them one more song.

Here are the top three things that will help you get your child into bed without a fuss:

  1. Routine, routine, routine.  This will be your saving grace. Whatever your routine, make sure you do the same things in the same order every single night. An example could be a 7:00 bath, then pajamas, then toothbrushing, then a cuddle and a little story or a song.
  2. No negotiations.  It’s pretty normal for your child to try and change the rules or ask for more stories, extra TV time, something to eat or something to drink when it’s time for lights out. It can be tough to resist, but the clearer you are about the boundaries and consequences, the smoother bedtime will go for everyone. This means that even if you really feel like reading that extra story, don’t do it. Once you give in to a demand, no matter how small, you will be in for a battle every night as your child tries to find where the line is again. If your child gets out of bed, turns her lights on or gets angry with you, offer one warning, then give a consequence.
  3. Set a timer.  The timer is your friend, trust me. Set a timer before bed and tell your child he needs to have his pajamas on and his teeth brushed by the time the timer goes off or there will be no time for a story. While this sounds like a threat, you will be surprised by how enjoyable this is for most kids. They love trying to beat the timer, and this way it’s something external telling them when they need to be in bed, not just you and your constant nagging.:)

A note on early bedtimes:

While all of these tips will ensure an easier bedtime for you all, they will only work if your child goes to bed nice and early. Young children need 10-12 hours of sleep a night, so they should be in bed no later than 7:30. Kids will spin more and more out of control the later it gets, so as tempting as it can be to let your child stay up late, especially if it’s a weekend or you don’t have anywhere to be the next morning, you need to make sure that bedtime stays consistent.

The Sleep Sense™ Program for Baby Sleep and Child Sleep DisordersIf you’re looking for a more in-depth, step-by-step plan designed to get your child sleeping straight through the night, click here to check out The Sleep Sense Program. It includes books, how-to videos, personal e-mail and telephone support, and much more!

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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