Spring is here, and I don’t think that I’m the only one dancing for joy. It was a rough winter in many parts of the country. The warmer, longer days and sunshine are good for the soul.
Along with the longer daylight hours, however, comes a common problem if you have younger children: How do you encourage little ones to go to sleep at bedtime when it’s still light outside?
Longer days mean more time to play! You can’t blame a child for wanting to stay up until the sun goes down, but we know that children need a certain number of hours of restful sleep each night to grow and be healthy. It’s for this reason that it’s important to maintain a reasonable bedtime during the spring and summer months. Here are a few things you can do to help them get to bed on time.
Establish and maintain a bedtime routine. Studies suggest that a nightly bedtime routine helps children relax and fall asleep more quickly. More outside playtime calls for more frequent bathing as well, so why not incorporate a nightly bath if you haven’t already? To make the bath especially soothing for your little one, mix a few drops of lavender oil into a bit of unscented shampoo or bubble bath, and add it to the bath water. After bath time, snuggle up and read a book together before bed.
Turn off the electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. Give your child’s brain a chance to wind down. Keep televisions and computers out of bedrooms if possible so that your child will not equate time in their bedroom with screen time.
Install blackout curtains if your child’s bedroom gets a lot of light at the end of the day. If you don’t want to invest in new curtains, use clothespins to hang an extra blanket over the existing curtains or blinds to block out extra light.
Use a white noise machine to drown out sounds that might prevent children from falling asleep. It will be very hard for a child to fall asleep if he or she hears the neighbors laughing and playing outside. A noise machine or a fan can help mask those sounds.
All these tips can be applied to adults as well. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, these might help you. Soon the whole family will be on their way to a great night’s sleep, at any time of the year.
If you’re struggling to get your baby to settle to sleep, no matter the season, read a sleep specialist’s advice on sleep training.