Does your child have troubles sleeping alone throughout the night? If that’s the case, make sure to check out these 10 tips and tricks for helping kids staying in their own bed!
Do you know that feeling when you’re about to put your children to bed and then a cold sweat starts running down your back because you know what’s about to come next? “I want another bedtime story”, “I’m hungry”, “I heard some noises over there”, “Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”, etc... If this sounds familiar to you, you’re possibly struggling with kids staying in their own bed at night. Of course you want to comfort your child and just let them sleep in your bed to get at least a bit of rest, especially if it is already midnight or beyond. But is this beneficial for your child in the long run? It might encourage certain unwanted behavior, that could become a bad habit in future. Here are our top 10 tips and tricks for helping kids stay in their own bed every night.
The keyword here is “Routine”. Ensuring that you have a recurring bedtime routine is essential to bring your child into the right state of mind and let them subconsciously know that it is time to wind down and sleep. Studies have shown that this routine should take about 20-45 minutes to help set the right mood. Limit pre-bed activities to about three or four actions and make sure these are relaxing. Don’t do anything that might stir up their emotions and get them all wiggly again! As soon as you’ve set up a certain pattern that indicates bedtime, you’ll see a change in their behavior. Without even knowing consciously your child’s body and mind will prepare to go to sleep while both of you run the bedtime routine. These subconscious cues and routines will help ready your child to fall asleep in their own bed.
As banal as this sounds, using soft sheets, good shades and a night light can make a massive difference. Your child needs to feel well in their own room if they are to be encouraged to sleep by themselves. This means that anything that gives your child a comfy physical feeling will benefit their sleep. For example, making sure that it is cool enough can have a big influence because any room temperature above 21.1 degrees Celsius might overheat your child’s body during their sleep according to Whitney Roban, a sleep specialist from America. A restless sleep may result in a child in your room in the wee hours or, an overtired child the next day due to waking in the night. Something as simple as keeping the noise down around bedtime in the rest of the household will also ensure an uninterrupted sleep with no waking up in between.
Eliminating the “I’m hungry” excuse is not just important for the hunger of your children but even more so for a smooth and easy falling asleep process. If your kids have satisfying meals at the right time, their sleep can drastically improve. Your children should preferably have their dinner 3 hours before bedtime and then another small snack about 45 minutes before sleeping. Being hungry or too full before going to sleep can give anybody a feeling of being unwell, especially children and their sensitive tummies. Check out some recipes for healthy snacks for children that will make sure you’re giving them the right food when they’re moody.
To set the natural clock of your child is as important as having a clear bedtime routine. If your child goes to bed at around 6.30 pm and wakes up at around 6 am, try to keep this consistent. Do not vary these times for more than one to two hours every day, to give your child’s body consistency in when it should sleep and when it should wake up. At some point your little one will want to go to bed naturally at a certain time that you set as well as wake up at that certain time. Once these regular waking up and sleeping times are set, you won’t be struggling with kids staying in their own bed as they will fall asleep naturally.
Have you ever seen your child playing, using the computer or doing their homework during the day in their bed? If so, try to discourage them from doing that. Otherwise this will have negative effects subconsciously on their brain, associating the bed with awake/stimulating activities and not just sleeping.
We all know how our children are full of energy. If this energy is not expelled throughout the day, at night you may find they still have energy to burn. On average, every kid needs about an hour a day of exercise to burn off any excessive energy. If your child has had an active day, you may find it easier to put them to sleep without even needing a bedtime story, nor giving them the chance to ask for a spot in your bed. But be careful to not have any energetic activities within two-three hours before going to bed. This might do the opposite and wake them up or get their adrenaline pumping. A walk around the block after school or before dinner is a great idea. Alternatively check out these 87 energy-busting indoor activities to make sure you’ll give you kids that perfect Zzz!
It is scientifically proven that the blue light of electronic screens, wake up the brain of any person, no matter the age. It is no surprise if a child doesn’t want to sleep alone because it is too stimulated and wired up from all of the bright and colourful animations on screens. Make sure that if you use an electronic device for your child before sleeping, to turn on the blue light filter and don’t let them play or watch anything that might stimulate them massively. Especially very engaging mobile video games can have a negative effect on the sleep of children. Rather use an interesting but quiet app that might be implemented in your child’s bedtime routine on a screen with the blue filter switched on before sleeping. Lying in your child's bed with them and listening to an age appropriate sleep meditation app can be a bonding addition to the bedtime routine we spoke about earlier.
If a child doesn’t want to sleep alone, it could potentially be they are needing a little more one on one time with their significant caregivers. Family life is far busier than it was a generation or two ago and often we need to be intentional about slowing down and connecting with our kids. Especially at night, when everyone is home and distractions winding down, you may find is peak time for your kids to try to get some extra attention and time from you, that was not possible throughout the day. Try to find some time when you come home to spend some quality time with your children even if it is just for 15 mins. Ask about their day or give them positive feedback that you noticed about them. If you are caring for a baby, make sure to spend 10 to 15 minutes of cuddling together and making eye contact for comfort.
Try and avoid late or long nap times if your child is older than five years. For pre-schoolers, if these short day sleeps are longer than 20 minutes, you risk your kid not being tired enough to go to bed at night. The same problem occurs if the nap times are too late in the day, which means that your loved ones will be too energetic for bed time and won’t be in the right mood to sleep. This results in an even higher chance of children not wanting to sleep alone because they are not tired enough to fall asleep by themselves and might seek you out for comfort and/or company. Check out this super detailed nap guide.
Setting up a reward system can do wonders. If your children are able to earn a small incentive for positive behavior like adhering to the bedtime routine, it will add fun to the whole process and build great habits and positivity around sleeping. This technique is even more effective if you can visually track their progress and they can see how they go for themselves in real time. That’s where the Thumsters App comes in handy. With the premium version of Thumsters, you and your child can customize the thumbs up and down reasons. 'Staying in my bed', 'Sleeping through' are great thumbs up reasons, or just the generic 'job well done!' Going straight to sleep will earn them a thumb ups that result in small rewards or if not followed, a thumbs down is a gentle reminder (rather than yelling at them to get back into bed) that they are not following the routine you have set up together, and invites them to try again the next night. This shows them that positive behavior, like following the bedtime routine and learning to enjoy sleeping alone, will have positive outcomes. But you can even do much more than that with the the Thumsters premium version; family account sharing, detailed reports and a child’s companion app (coming soon!) give you all the tools to help encourage positive behavior.
By keeping all of these 10 top tips and tricks for helping kids stay in their own bed in mind, you should have a smoother time putting your kids to bed and letting them sleep alone, safely and peacefully throughout the night. Always make sure to keep monitoring the behavior of your child for anything unusual and have an open ear as to why they may not want to sleep alone or have problems sleeping. Communication is key and helps you build a healthy relationship around bedtime. You can create this healthy relationship with the help of Thumsters. Trigger the right behaviors by involving your children in the process of choosing what a healthy bedtime routine looks like in your family. Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Download the app now for Android or Apple products!
We'd love to know in the comments some of YOUR tips and tricks for helping your child stay in their bed at night!