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10 Surefire Solutions to End the Bedtime Battle

Fix your child’s bedtime routine once and for all.
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How to Set the Scene and Create the Ritual for a Peaceful 'Good Night' continued...

Keep Your Child's Bedtime Consistent

Don't stray too far from what you establish as the appropriate bedtime, Waldburger says. Consistency is crucial. That means that bedtime stays the same even on the weekends and during the summer when days are longer.

And when your child does go to bed later than usual, try to get him up about the same time. Long says it's important not to let your child sleep in sometimes and not others so he doesn't start shifting his sleep pattern.

Let Your Child Wind Down

Just as adults can't go right from the busyness and activity of the day into sleep, neither can your child. She needs a transition to relax and settle down. "There should be no vigorous activity between a half hour and an hour before bedtime," Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician with Children's Medical Group in Atlanta, says. Shu is also co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn.

Establish a Routine for Your Child's Bedtime

Shu calls this the Four B's: bath, brushing teeth, books. and bed. The routine should start somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour before you want your child to be asleep, she says.

It's important that your child's routine be predictable, Waldburger says. Do the same things in the same order. "Over time, just doing the routine will make a child sleepy," she says.

And it works in reverse too. Soon, when your child feels tired, she will start asking for bath and books, Shu says.

With older kids who get themselves ready for bed, Long suggests playing beat the clock. Make a deal with them that if they get ready before the timer rings they get an extra story or five extra minutes to read to themselves.

Offer Lots of Choices for Kid's Bedtime

Offer your child simple either-or choices, not open-ended choices that will frustrate both of you, Waldburger says. The options are endless.

  • Would you like to skip or walk to the bath?
  • Would you like to wear the green pajamas or the blue ones?
  • Do you want to read two or three stories?
  • Would you like three kisses or five?

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