Do you sometimes have trouble getting your child to go to bed on time? Getting enough sleep is vital for a child's ability to learn, grow and be a cheerful person. In fact, research repeatedly shows that children who get enough sleep have healthier brain functioning and better emotional well-being. Here are some ways to make bedtime more fun for your child so they can get the rest they need:
Create a Regular Bedtime Routine
Children feel safe, secure and happy when they have a routine they can count on. That is why creating a bedtime routine is the first step for making bedtime a happy occasion. A multinational study of over 10,000 children in 14 countries discovered that children with a consistent bedtime routine had:
- earlier bedtimes
- faster falling asleep
- reduced night awakening
- an average of one hour more of sleep
- decreased sleep problems
- better daytime behaviour
- better sleep outcomes
How can you create a bedtime routine? Every day, do the same things before bed in the same order. These can be very simple tasks like:
- bath time
- brush teeth
- bathroom and glass of water
- pick out pyjamas and put them on
- read a story
- stretching exercises to calm down
- sing lullaby or quiet song
- prayer or thanks
- say goodnight, tuck child in bed, kiss goodnight and leave.
Another great way to make bedtime fun is to plan incentives for when your child goes to bed on time for a certain number of days in a row, or a whole week. You can choose incentives that are healthy and fun, and which help your child get exercise, spend time with you, or enjoy a friend. Here are some ideas.
- Go to one of Mumbai's famous parks.
- Have a friend over to play.
- Play board games at home as a family.
- Explore Mumbai's outdoor activities like going to the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, or Yeoor Hill Trails.
- Play a sport together like badminton or tennis.
- Go running, hiking, bike riding or walking.
Children love having your undivided attention and they love hearing stories. A wonderful bonding time can be reading together every night before bed. Settling in with a good book can also be calming and get a child in the right mood to sleep. Board books are good for the youngest children. Choose picture books from ages 3 to 7.
When children get old enough to read themselves, they can start having their own reading time before bed. However, you might want to consider continuing to read to them, transitioning into chapter books that you read over several days or weeks. Experts say that reading aloud to older children has important educational benefits. Better yet, it has the benefit of bonding you to your child by giving you something to talk about that you've shared together. Read one or two chapters a night and enjoy talking about the story together during the day. Mysteries are good books to read aloud because you can take guesses about the clues.
Play Time Not Screen Time
One way to make sure your child is ready for sleep when it is time to go to bed is to limit T.V. and "screen" time for at least an hour before bed. Studies show that the brain is more active and not ready for sleep when children are using electronics right before bed. Instead of screen time, have "play time." You can:
- Have family game time.
- Talk about the day.
- Clean up the play area and bedroom.
- Have quiet music and play time.
- Do story time and bedtime routines.
Create a Theme Bedroom
A final idea to make bedtime more fun is to create a theme bedroom for your child. With a theme bedroom, you child has a place to create imaginary adventures and a wonderful private world they can enjoy that is uniquely their own. Here are some theme ideas:
- Barnyard theme with rustic furniture, animal accessories and stuffed barnyard animals.
- Indian heritage theme with bright colours on walls and Indian colours and fabric patterns.
- Captain of the ship theme with nautical wallpaper, bright furniture and ship themed accessories.
- Sports theme with either baseball, basketball, football or rugby themed furniture, walls in favourite team's colours and sports equipment.
- Beach theme with white furniture, shell decorations, and pastel bed linens.
Bedtime Can Be Fun Time
Following these suggestions can make bedtime one of your child's favourite times of the day. Better yet, it can become one of your favourite times too!