We’re often grateful for what good sleepers our kids are, and sometimes a little embarrassed to talk about it around people whose kids don’t sleep well. We had three kids inside of three years, and all three of them were sleeping regularly before they were two months old.
So did we just hit the lottery? Maybe. Maybe in marriage we have united two long-forgotten lines of champion sleepers. But just in case we haven’t, here’s some parenting tips we’ve used to help make sure our kids sleep well.
- Don’t go out of our way to make it too dark or too quiet
We sort of stumbled into this one, but we try to go out of our way to specifically not create a special sleep environment. No white noise machine, no blackout curtains, etc. When the kids were very little, we’d sometimes let them sleep in a bassinet while we watched a TV show at a reasonable volume in the same room. Now, none of them have any trouble getting to sleep if the baby’s crying, or if there’s some construction outside, or if it’s still light, as is frequently the case at bedtime in the summer.
- Have a bedtime routine
We’ve found that having a flexible-in-its-particulars, firm-in-its-form bedtime routine has helped enormously in getting the kids ready for bed. No matter how rambunctious they are, by the time they’re in jammies they’ve started to calm down a little. Then we read a story. Then we sing a song. Then we give them hugs and kisses and squeezes (always 20 squeezes, no more, no less), and they’re ready to get in bed, because that’s the next step.
- No getting up once it’s bedtime
We’ve met some parents who, if their child has some trouble getting to sleep, will just get them up and let them play or hang out with them. We’ve tried to enforce a hard and fast rule where, if it’s bedtime, even if the kids aren’t sleeping, they’ve got to still be in their room with the lights out. Not wanting to go to sleep isn’t an excuse to get out of bedtime.
Those are the big three. Apart from that, we try to be flexible. Watson, for instance, has been sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag for the last two weeks because he doesn’t like his bed, and as long as he sleeps, we don’t see any reason to fight him on that. Both of our older kids like to bring books to bed with them, and as long as they’re comfortable, that’s not a problem for us.
Have any of you got any sleep tips that have helped you and your kids? Let us know in the comments!