Bed Time Capers
Many parents struggle with bed time and even refer to it as “the witching hour”! Children call out for a drink of water, want yet another story, and demand more food. Parents feel frustrated and exhausted!
All are delaying tactics to stave off the inevitable……..time for sleep! Parents need respite from children to re-charge their batteries and all children need their sleep. Most young children need to be in bed and asleep by 7.30pm; however young children who still have a day time sleep may still be up after this time and should be encouraged to play quietly while other siblings are trying to go to sleep. It is really important to establish a bed time routine to encourage restful sleep for children. Once this is established children will feel safe and calm as they know what to expect and evenings will flow smoothly. Try to be consistent as children are less likely to push boundaries and test limits if they know what to expect.
Children resist sleep for many reasons:
- They may want more time with Mum & Dad
- They may be over stimulated or excited from playing
- They may have eaten sugar… ice cream, sweet biscuits or lollies
- They may be overstimulated from watching T.V or a DVD
- They may feel genuinely scared or frightened to be in their room
Encouraging sleep for children
There are many things you can do to assist your child to settle to sleep happily. Children can be over stimulated by watching T.V. or a DVD in the afternoon and evening. Television can over-stimulate children and anything with adult themes should be avoided. In particular do not allow young children to watch the news. By eliminating television viewing from the afternoon and evening children will be more relaxed, calm & settled.
By ensuring children have a low GI lunch and afternoon tea, they will have more available energy listen and be co-operative, then eat their dinner. Sugar laden foods such as cordial and ice cream can cause children to be “hyped” and have difficulty settling to sleep. Fear of monsters or the dark can also play havoc.
If your routine in the early evening is not working then change it! You may need to bring everything forward by 15 – 30 minutes. You may simply need to plan a bath before dinner. By slightly re-vamping the routine you may have more co-operative children.
What does low GI mean?
The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of rating foods according to how quickly the glucose in them is digested and makes it’s way into the blood stream. Low GI foods which are slowly digested include wholegrain bread, fruit, most vegetables, yoghurt, tofu, pasta, beans, lentils, and oats. High GI foods which are rapidly digested, include potatoes and white bread. This is because the glucose contained in low GI foods is released slowly into the blood after digestion, and this helps blood glucose levels to rise steadily, avoiding a glucose ‘high’.
Sleep for kids: Tips for calm bedtime
- Establish a routine and be consistent
- Spend time playing child centred games with your child every day
- Avoid rough & tumble play before bed time
- Serve low GI food for afternoon tea & dinner
- Avoid watching T.V. and videos in the afternoon and evening
- Avoid high sugar foods including cordial and ice cream (substitute with unsweetened yogurt & fruit)
- Have a set number of stories each evening and stick to it
- For children who feel scared try this one: Sit in the doorway without talking and read a book until your child drops off to sleep. Tell your child you will go away if they talk. This reassures your child and helps them to relax & drop off to sleep. It takes only 5 minutes, instead of an hour of calling out! This phase will pass.
Suggested bedtime routine to encourage getting off to sleep for children 4-7 year olds
- 3.30pm – Low GI Snack
- 5.15 − 5.30pm – Low GI Dinner
- 6.00 – Bath
- 6.45 − 2 Stories
- 7pm – Lights out
If children are resisting the bath it is OK. They do not have to have a bath every night. However, immersion in water can calm children. Sometimes bath before dinner is a good idea.
This advice will not work for all families. Many parents both work full time, returning home after 6.30pm most evenings. Others are single parents or shift workers. Whatever your situation or hours of work, children will benefit from a routine. Problems to do with sleep in children will benefit from a routine. So please contact Janet if you need assistance with establishing a routine that works for your family. 02 9939 3732 0416 153 602