Sleep issues when your child is no longer a baby
Sleep issues with your child are the worst. I can’t even count the number of times I have said that to a friend. No one deals well with very little sleep. And it’s hard to get a handle on.
I have had a very difficult time finding information on sleep issues with older kids. There is information everywhere about helping your baby sleep better, but not a lot is available for older kids. Because of that, I decided to share some tips that I have found helpful in dealing with sleep issues in our house.
Lest you think I have the answer that will help your child finally sleep better, I most likely don’t. How is that helpful? Seriously though, I have some tricks that have worked well for my kids, but it often takes some trial and error to figure out what will work for your child. Try one, try more than one, and combine different tips to find what works best for your child.
If you don’t already have one, set up a bedtime routine that works for your family and then stick to it. We brush our teeth, read books, pray, and then go to bed. We have done this ever since my kids were babies, and I think the fact that we don’t waiver on that is one of the reasons putting the kids to bed is usually pretty easy.
Books on CD
If you have a child who has a hard time settling down at night or can’t stop thinking, audiobooks are a great option. Our kids have a CD player in their room and several books on CD. It gives them something to focus on as they lie in bed trying to sleep. You can find many options for children’s story books with CDs. As our kids get older, they also really enjoy longer stories. Some popular audiobooks in our house are The Jesus Storybook Bible, and The Story of the World. We also pick up audiobooks from the library.
Playing calming music is another great option to help kids relax at bedtime. After they listen to the audiobook of their choice, our kids change out the CD for music. We sometimes hear the music turn on at 2 am after someone has gone to the bathroom. Classical music or lullabies are good choices. We are absolutely in love with Hidden in Your Heart scripture lullabies. We have all 3 of their CDs and we love each of them. They are great music to fall asleep to.
White noise is great for blocking out any weird noises that might otherwise bother the kids. Or if your kids share a room like mine do, it is good at keeping everyone else asleep when one person gets up.
Nightlight or book light
I have a friend whose child had a lot of fear at night and it took 3 nightlights to help her daughter sleep well. I know that some people feel very strongly about the room being completely dark, but my goal is sleep. I say do what works.
We went through a phase where my 5-year-old would wake up to go to the bathroom and then be unable to fall back asleep. Laying there in the dark unable to sleep just made her worry and she usually ended up in our room scared. Having her turn her music back on after going to the bathroom and giving her a book light so she could read has drastically cut down on those middle-of-the-night wake-ups for us.
Even a small kid’s camping lantern might be a good option for a child who wakes up scared. It gives them the ability to turn on a small light without having to move out of their bed.
A sleeping bag
This one is not for everyone, but it has worked very well for us. When our kids struggle with real fear and putting them back to bed doesn’t work, a sleeping bag on our bedroom floor helps us all get the sleep we need. It gives them the sense of security they need and allows my husband and I to both still sleep soundly.
We have only done this a handful of times but I know several people whose children were dealing with serious fear or changes in their lives and slept in their parents’ room for months off and on until they were able to resolve it. Usually the child would start the night in their own room and then end up in a sleeping bag in the middle of the night. I think you need to do what works best for your family in situations like that.
I really like the KidSafe line of essential oils from Plant Therapy. We use the Nighty Night blend at times. Honestly, just knowing I am using it makes the kids calm down. It may be all in their heads, but either way it works!
If your issue is that your child is getting up too early, a wake-up clock might be a good option. It gives you the ability to set a clock to change colors when it is time to wake up. Our kids know they need to be in bed and be quiet until their clock turns green. They can read books, but they need to stay put.
I would love to hear what tricks you have for helping your kids sleep better. You never know when I might need one or it might help someone else!