I read recently about a couple who had so much trouble getting their baby to sleep that they hired a sleep consultant. After paying this consultant $400, they learned that that there were three tips for getting their child to sleep, and they spell out “BED”:
1.) “B” is for bedtime routine, which means having a consistent ritual at bedtime.
2.) “E” is for early to bed.
3.) “D” is for down awake -- better to put a children to bed while they are still awake so that they can comfort and soothe themselves.
This is, of course, good information, if not a bit obvious. Children learn through repetition and consistency. Being consistent requires attention, dedication, and discipline on the part of the parents, which can be quite a challenge in our world. Sometimes it’s easier to indulge children, playing with them too close to their bedtime, reading that extra story, letting them have a little ice cream. Or maybe Daddy’s on his way home a little late and the child wants to see him. And children often resist bedtime, manipulating their parents to stay up longer. There are a myriad of reasons why a child can get off schedule.
It takes a focused parent (and a well rested one!) to gently enforce healthy pre-bedtime habits. I’ve witnessed homes where the children ran around after their (alleged) bedtimes because the parents were inconsistent and lacking follow-through in their directives to the children. And not surprisingly, these same children were often up in the middle of the night.
The irony is, that as difficult as this may be to enforce, in the long run it makes everyone’s lives easier. The children learn boundaries, self soothing skills and can look forward to a peaceful bedtime ritual. The parents enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. And everyone finally gets a good night’s sleep.