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Create a Bedtime Routine That Works

How to Get Your Child to Settle Down & Go to Sleep


Woman reading to daughter in bed
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As a single parent, you'll want to develop a clear, consistent bedtime routine so that your kids know what to expect each evening. This will help them fall asleep more easily and avoid sleep-related problems like poor behavior, difficulty concentrating, and frequent nighttime waking. The bonus for you is that once that bedtime routine is in place, you'll notice a significant uptick in the amount of "me time" you can anticipate each evening! In order to make sure that your child is getting enough sleep on a regular basis, start with these dos and don'ts:

  • Spend some time unwinding with a quiet activity 30 minutes before starting the bedtime routine.

  • Be consistent. The routine should be the same night-to-night, so that your child learns to anticipate sleep as part of the routine.

  • Include bathtime in your regular routine, as the soothing warmth will help prepare your child's body for rest.

  • Make reading together part of the bedtime routine.

  • Move your child's bedtime up (to an earlier time) if he or she frequently wakes during the night.

  • Leave the room while your child is still awake.

  • Allow soft music or a nightlight.

  • Remain calm when your child calls for you.

  • Reassure your child that you will come back and check on him or her during the night.

  • Always put your infant on his or her back to sleep.

  • Impose reasonable consequences if your child refuses to go to sleep. For example, a favorite toy might go in "Time Out," or your child might lose TV time for continuing to act out at bedtime.
  • Make TV part of the bedtime routine.

  • Offer caffeinated sodas with dinner.

  • Allow frequent interruptions to the evening routine.

  • Make lying down together or rocking your child to sleep a regular part of your evening routine.

  • Use thick blankets, quilts, stuffed animals, or pillows in your infant's crib.

  • Pick your child up if he or she continues to call for your fights going to sleep. Instead, simply reassure him or her that you're nearby.
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