Rock-a-bye baby

Use simple methods and routine to get little ones to sleep

It's a shrill, ear-piercing cry at midnight. It’s wide eyes after three bedtime stories. It’s hearing your bedroom door creak open, followed by a shy, “I can’t sleep.”

For children, it’s any excuse to get out of bed.

It’s no secret that getting babies and kids to sleep can be challenging. It’s not even a secret that the word “challenging” might be an understatement.

It’s all about trial and error, says Melissa Martinez-Chauvin, local yoga teacher and mother of 17-month-old son.

The key, she’s found, is a nightly routine.

Keeping a routine is a great way to let kids know that the day is ending, and that it’s nearly time for bed. Like adults, if children know what to expect going into a situation, they may not fight the process as much as they might have if they’re uncertain of what’s to come.

Martinez-Chauvin starts her evening routine by serving her son, Jai, a wholesome dinner at the table with the family. Because children can be picky, she recommends serving different flavors of foods your children like, so they’re content with a full belly at bedtime. For Jai, it’s a variety of flavored rice, including coconut and almond. After dinner, it’s on to a soothing bath.

Baths can be a great way to relax children. Warm water, and the feeling of weightlessness can feel soothing at any age. For those giving your children a bath before bed, try to avoid playtime with toys. Instead, bring a toothbrush to keep minds busy, teeth clean, and save a little time for mom or dad while the child’s body relaxes.

After a bath, the rest of the nightly routine can be tailored to the child’s age. Maybe the parent can read a story to the child; maybe the child can read a story to the parent. Some parents recommend a yoga-like body scan where the child can practice relaxing each individual part of his or her body (first toes, then ankles, and move up from there) until sleep comes easily.

Something else to consider for the not-yet-potty trained little ones is using nighttime diapers. The extra absorption may keep the son or daughter asleep longer.

Another trick could be to use essential oils as home remedy. Try using a spritz of water mixed with several drops of lavender essential oil on a child’s pillow to release a calming scent. A diffuser can also be used to release the essential oil slowly into the room and create a soft background noise for children. Lastly, when putting the kids to sleep, remember that they can often sense parents’ bad moods. Although it’s frustrating, it will come. Building the foundation for good sleep is crucial, and maintaining that routine will help both parents and little ones in the long run.

“I notice a big difference in the way he responds to my calm energy vs. my annoyed go back to sleep energy,” Martinez-Chauvin said.