This Is How to Get Your Kid to Sleep

Sometimes it seems like however much a parent desperately wants to sleep, that’s exactly how much their child does not want to sleep. Plenty of kids resent being told to power down at an early hour; either they’re too stimulated to go to sleep or they want to be like the grown-ups and stay up later. So how on earth do you create a kids bedtime ritual that actually gets them to sleep?

The good news is some moms are pros at just that. We spoke to parents who have orchestrated their kids’ bedtimes just so, and they fall asleep within minutes — even if they try their hardest not to. Try the tips below the next time your kid is running around past their bedtime and you’re getting antsy. They just might be the miracle cure you’ve been (sleepily) waiting for.

Create a steady routine

“I focus less on the time and more on reading my kids’ queues and the order of operations. For our youngest, we eat dinner, bathe, have quiet playtime and read together. Then we spend time snuggling in with a bottle, her Goodnight Moon board book and her favorite WubbaNub pacifier (we have three in case of emergency). Once she’s rubbing her eyes, we turn off the lamp together, give hugs and kisses, say goodnight, and I lay her down fully awake. It took a few weeks to get into this system, but I swear by our routine now. She knows exactly what to expect and when, so she never feels like she’s missing out on anything by closing her eyes. Most nights, she’ll even ask for ‘night-night’ when she starts getting sleepy. Now, the baby sleeps better, and mommy is just a bit saner for it.” — Tiffany Barry

Let them read in bed

“Sela is 11 and Cross is 9. Each night, we tell them that they can go to sleep right now and just lay in bed or they can read for a half-hour. When they’re finished reading, they’re ready to snooze. [And for traveling], we have a little white noise app on our iPad or iPhone that we use to drown out the noises as they’re going to bed or to keep them from hearing noises in the mornings.” — Suzette Munson

Give them a gadget-free hour

“My child’s bedtime ritual includes a winding-down period for around an hour before bedtime. I find that this gives him enough time to relax and get into a calm state of mind before sleep. That means no electronics, like games and tablets, and avoiding activities that may stimulate his mind or promote wakefulness. Instead, the winding-down period includes activities that he will naturally associate with bedtime and help him get into the right state of calm. Each night, this includes him getting into his pajamas, brushing his teeth and then finally story time.” — Jennifer Lipsitt-McLean

Do a stretch

“Mattea, our 5-year-old, is an amazing sleeper.?My favorite nighttime ritual to do with her is a wall stretch.? We lay together on the floor with our legs up on the wall.? It’s a fun way to connect and stretch our tight hamstrings!?This is a ‘lazy girl’ exercise but also a great one for kids to wind down and be still.?We try to stay there for five minutes.” — Kara Tatelbaum

Practice meditation

“I like to have the girls wind down alongside me with a nightly yoga meditation. We turn all the lights down — just a dim glow of our salt lamp — I ask them to think about one thing they would like to dream about when they fall?asleep, and then I lead them in a yoga stretch and meditation they can actually do from their beds. I have found that this slows their busy little brains down so that they can enter relaxation mode. They also get super excited about whatever they wished to dream about, and they actually look forward to going to sleep to see if they will actually have the dream they wished for!” — Briana Marie

Send a goodnight message

“Hugs and kisses and lights out with a consistent sleepy-time message — ‘Sweet dreams; Mommy loves you; I’ll see you in the morning.’” — Christine Brown

Engage all their senses

“A warm bath — sometimes with lavender essential oil or other relaxing bubbles. Milk with a small snack before brushing teeth to make sure his belly is full and he doesn’t get back up saying, ‘I am hungry.’ Lavender essential oil in the diffuser (also serves as a night-light). Read a book together or listen to a sleep story in the Calm app. If he’s really irritable, I offer to lightly rub his head/face while he falls asleep.” — Razonia McClellan

Have a one-on-one chat in bed

“Every night after reading, my 9-year-old daughter and I have a talk. Our talk is for 10 minutes. Sometimes we go over a little bit, but we set a timer so that we can stay on track for bedtime. We talk about each other‘s days. I ask her what was the best part of her day, and she asks me. Of course, as you ask about the best part of the day, other bits of information trickle into the conversation. For example, who was not nice to somebody at school, a funny thing that happened at lunch, a frustrating issue for me at work, who fell down at recess, who I met for coffee, etc. She looks forward to this talk so much that she gets into bed and is ready for me without complaints.” — Liz Fuller

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