How you can help if your child is not falling asleep
Bedtime routine tips & stories of kids who just won’t wind down!
Thanks to Disney Book Group for sponsoring this post.
Sometimes, kids just fight sleep. You know that they are tired, you know they are ready for bed, yet they lie there, wide awake. What can you do about it?
After doing the “bedtime thing” with four children, I can tell you that no two kids are alike. I have had some children who have gone into bed and fallen asleep in minutes. I have some who go to bed and lie there thinking for hours.
Without getting enough sleep, kids are tired, have a hard time focusing, become irritable and grumpy, and even have their physical health impacted (growth, development, and ability to fight illness).
First, some bedtime tips if your child is not falling asleep:
1- Keeping them up longer won’t help.
Try as you might, trying to make them more tired by giving them less sleep often backfires, as they become “overly- tired”. For this reason, our kids all go to bed reasonably early. The younger they are, the earlier their bedtime, with our youngest going to bed around 7:00 and our oldest going to bed closer to 9:00. Find the perfect time for your child through trial & error. Soon, you’ll find the perfect number of sleeping hours for your child. (Most school-aged children need around 11 hours of sleep.)
2- Eliminate electronics.
If your kids are child is not falling asleep and is having trouble falling asleep, get rid of any electronics before bed. Using electronics stimulates their bodies & mind and keeps them up.
3- Read before bed.
Introduce story time before bed, if you aren’t already doing this. Our children are allowed thirty minutes of reading in bed every night (example: 8:30-9:00). I’ll read to any of them, or they can read silently. I love when I can find a book about bedtime, like Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Scott Campbell.
This hilarious book has our kids laughing out loud and helps them to settle in for a good night’s sleep. Reading a book before bed is a great way to help kids relax, take their minds off of other things, and just calm down for the night.
4- Happy thoughts.
It is hard enough for children to wind down, but if they are worried, scared, or nervous, it’s much worse. I try to leave them with happy thoughts, tell them positive stories, and read them funny books before they go to bed. Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy is a fun twist on the classic bedtime story.
Roderick, the little boy in the book who just hates going to bed, is always finding ways to get out of going to bed. Then, one day, his parents get him a goodnight buddy to help him sleep. This talkative stuffed animal turns the tables on Roderick! Sleepy, his goodnight buddy, quickly proves to be a bit high-maintenance.
Just when we fear the night may never end, Sleepy’s antics become too exhausting for Roderick to bear.
Drew Daywalt did a great job at making our kids laugh with this one. He is the New York Times #1 best-selling author of The Day the Crayons Quit, so I knew this book would be another hit. Plus, with Scott Campbell’s expressive illustrations, it just brings it all home. After reading a book about bedtime that made them laugh, they are ready to snuggle in and fall asleep with their own goodnight buddy.
There is a reason that we sing lullabies to babies. When our children were having a hard time falling asleep (they all have at one point or another), I just leave my phone in their room with soft music playing. I take it away once they fall asleep.
6. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
When our kids truly can’t fall asleep, I’ll get my laptop or my phone, sit on their floor (by the door), and work or read until they fall asleep. It usually works within minutes. They are reassured because I am there.
I just have one rule→ No talking to me while I sit there. (This is because we have already had our “talking/snuggling” time and now it’s time for sleeping.) I’m happy to be there for them, but they need to go to sleep. After our snuggle/talking & reading time is done, it’s time for them to go to sleep.