I know several parents who have kept their children in cribs until potty training age. They often cite the difficulty of getting them to go to sleep once they have left the confines of cribs for the freedoms of big kid beds as a deciding factor. As a parent you work so hard to get them into a bedtime routine in the crib and the big kid bed means starting all over from scratch. However, what seems like a daunting task is made much easier with the help of a few simple tips.
Create and Stick With A Consistent Bedtime Schedule
Creating a consistent schedule trains your children’s bodies to make ready for sleep. Make their bedtime the same time every night. If their bedtime is 7:30 start your routine at 7:00 in order to make sure that they are in bed by 7:30. Do things in the same order every night. Bath, pj’s, teeth brushing, story, sleep. Small children crave routine. It is when things are outside you’re their normal routine (like when you travel) that it is harder to get them to go to bed. You can find some ideas for creating special bedtime routines here: Creating A Fun Bedtime Routine For Twins
Create An Environment Conducive to Sleep
Leaving the room to let the children settle themselves can be really hard for parents. Either parents feel like they are failing their children if they leave them crying in their room, or they are simply too tired to argue with their children about bedtime. Once children become toddlers a parent staying in the room to hold their hand, or snuggle with them until they fall asleep becomes a learned behavior associated with bedtime and it is really hard to break. They become dependent upon you to fall asleep at all. If they wake up in the night and find you gone they will need you to come back into the room to fall back asleep. Instead of staying in their room until they fall asleep create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Clear the room of all toys, books and other distractions. They should associate their room with sleep and not play. Invest in blackout curtains. Without them kids often refuse to go to sleep during the summer since it is light out so much later than other seasons. Having the room darkened when they go to sleep is also helpful for if they wake up in the middle of the night because they are better able to remember where they are and feel safe. When they feel safe they are less likely to call out to you in the middle of the night.
Turning on a fan or white noise machine has a hypnotic effect that helps with sleeping. It has the added benefit of drowning out any noise that is happening outside of the room and elsewhere in the house. Make sure that whatever you use continues through the night. CDs and some apps have timers and limited play time. The sudden loss of ambient noise can cause your children to wake up and become disconcerted.
My mother swears by essential oil and has been trying to get me to use different blends for years for everything from my migraines to stress. In the last year my son has had an increasingly hard time falling asleep at night. About a month ago I hit a wall. It was so frustrated. I was ready to try anything and broke down and bought an essential oil blend that she recommended in a roller ball applicator made up of different sleep promoting ingredients like lavender. I started putting it behind his ears, at his temples and on the soles of his feet every night at bedtime. It has been working so well, that I have started putting it on my 3 year old wins at bedtime as well. It has a calming effect that I find very helpful with the whole bedtime process.
Sleep Is How We Store Information
Scientists believe that sleep is how our body sorts and stores the information that we have collected throughout our waking hours. So I have told my children from the beginning that sleep is how our body stores everything that we have seen, heard and learned that day. I tell them that without sleep our brain forgets things. I will point out something awesome that happened that day, or some new accomplishment of theirs and ask them if they want to risk forgetting it by not going to sleep. It works more often than you think and I feel less guilty about saying it because it is backed by actual science.
Children pick up on inconsistencies. Be firm in reminding them that this is bedtime, not playtime and that they need to go to sleep. Occasionally allowing them to leave their room at bedtime (because they say that they can’t sleep or don’t want to) and come downstairs to hang out with you sets you up for failure during future arguments over bedtime. Though it may seem like children don’t really listen to us all that often they most certainly retain the information that is important to them. Once mom and dad stray from the prescribed routine and/or give in they are going to want that exception all the time.
The transition to big kids beds is something that should be celebrated rather than dreaded. Creating a routine that works for your family is the surest path to bedtime success.
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The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
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