By Jane Greminger, Nokomis Child Care Centers
Q: I have a really difficult time getting my son to go to bed. Is it really that important for him to have a regular bedtime?
A: A regular bedtime is very important for children because it helps them thrive, grow, and avoid excessive daytime sleepiness. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says, “Sleep, like diet and exercise, is important for our minds and bodies to function
When you choose a bedtime and remain consistent, your child will develop a regular sleep pattern. It may take some work to get this pattern established, but in the long run, it will decrease many of the bedtime battles.
Establishing a routine is the key to a smooth bedtime transition. Here are some common components of a nighttime routine you can adjust to fit your family’s needs.
- Have your child pick up his toys, change into a comfortable pair of pajamas, and brush his teeth.
- Set the temperature in your home at a comfortable setting.
- Let your child say goodnight to your pets.
- Spend time bonding with your child, whether you read stories, sing lullabies, visit quietly, etc.
- Allow your child to eat a light and healthy snack and/or get a small drink (but no large amounts of liquid).
- In order to avoid waking up in the middle of the night from having to use the bathroom, have your child go one last time before bed.
- Find things to comfort your child such as a stuffed animal to snuggle with, a night light, or soft music to soothe them.
Set firm and fair limits with your bedtime routine. Children will often try to delay or extend what they’re doing in an attempt to stay up longer. For example, if part of your routine is to say goodnight to your pets and your child continues to hold, pet, and play with your pet, then it’s time to set boundaries as to what it means to say goodnight to your pet.
When bedtime routines aren’t managed, they can be drawn out to the point at which their purpose is defeated. Planning for active days can also help at bedtime so your child doesn’t have built-up energy at night when it’s time to go to bed.
Allow some flexibility when it comes to establishing the routine that works for your family, but set limits and time frames that help keep your child on a consistent and regular nighttime schedule.
Nokomis Child Care is a program of The Village Family Service Center. Nokomis Child Care Centers play a unique role in the Fargo–Moorhead community. While providing traditional child care in a nurturing, safe, stimulating environment for families able to pay for the care, the program also fills a need for families with special needs, both financial and emotional. Nokomis provides a place for all children to thrive and grow, regardless of their needs. Nokomis has two child care centers in Fargo. “Like” Nokomis on Facebook.