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Baby sleep

12 Parent-Approved Bedtime Strategies: Secrets to a Peaceful Night

Readers from our online community share their best tricks for getting their kids to bed.

By Today's Parent staff
12 Parent-Approved Bedtime Strategies: Secrets to a Peaceful Night

Ah, the evening bedtime battle — the nightly saga (and struggle) of tuck-ins and tantrums for parents far and wide. As the moon takes its place in the sky, so do the endless "just five more minutes" and the inexplicable energy surges of our little ones. Sigh.

But fear not! If you’re having trouble getting your child to sleep, our amazing online community shared the best bedtime tricks to help your child embrace the land of slumber with ease.

So grab a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and get ready to discover all the ways you can reclaim the night — one sweet dream at a time.

Bubbles

“A nice warm bubble bath and then snuggles with Mommy.” — Kelly Whytewood

If you love winding down with a relaxing bubble bath before bed, why not make it a part of your child’s bedtime routine, too?

Taking a bath isn't just for relaxing and relieving stress; it can also tell the brain it's bedtime. When you make it part of your nightly routine, it helps set a consistent signal for sleep.

Try tossing in some colourful bath bombs or ones with cool surprises inside! And hey, adding a bit of lavender oil to their bath can really help them relax and drift off to sleep peacefully.

father washing small toddler son in a bathroom indoors at home. Halfpoint/ Getty Images

Routine

Routine and sometimes bribery.” — Rebecca Howat

Having a solid bedtime routine is always key. It helps you wind down and relax after a long day and signals to your brain that it's time for sleep. This works wonders for kids, too. Setting up a bedtime ritual can seriously upgrade their sleep game.

Now, if you're scratching your head thinking about what to include, you can mix things up with some storytime, a warm bath, quiet play, or even some snuggle time to help them ease into sleep mode.

And just between us, a tiny bit of bribery to keep things on track isn't always bad.  Sometimes, it's just the ticket to making the routine stick like glue.

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Breastfeed

Breastfeeding, all the way.” — Anna Mushynski

You know how it goes – sometimes a crying baby is just a hungry baby. So, if your little angel is having difficulty settling down, they might want to be fed.

However, breastfeeding may lead to more frequent awakenings at night, so it's important to establish a consistent nighttime feeding schedule to help both you and your baby enjoy more restful sleep.

Young Mother Breastfeeding Baby Baby at Home bymuratdeniz / Getty Images

Rub

“My daughter, six, loves it when I rub her back if she is having a hard time falling asleep. My son, 10, likes it when I rub his head — something he has liked since he was an infant.” — Tracy Whitehead

Just like how you enjoy a nice massage to unwind and relax after a long day, giving your child a gentle back rub can help them destress and get ready for bed.

It's a lovely way to add some extra relaxation to their bedtime routine, especially after bathing and brushing their teeth.

Play

“Wear ’em out! Play like crazy outside.” — Carmen Pekkarinen

If your little one isn't into counting sheep at bedtime, getting them moving during the day might just help them drift off to sleep easier.

After all, a study from 2014 in PLOS One, a reputable open-access journal by the Public Library of Science, found that more active kids tend to get better sleep, so to get your little one active and having fun, encourage outdoor play or playground time to help them burn off excess energy. It could be the perfect way for them to use up all that energy and make bedtime a breeze.

Girl playing on floor Westersoe / Getty Images

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Accept

“She’s a routine baby and usually goes down before you can say ‘Twinkle, Twinkle.’ But, when she decides she isn’t going to sleep, it’s better for all of us if I just accept it. She gets her stubbornness from me.” — Brianne Zwambag

Dealing with a stubborn child can make this trick seem tricky, but it's surprisingly effective. Just let your little munchkin tire themselves out – sometimes that's all it takes to help them nod off.

Eliminate

Eliminating the nap worked for us. We are also very consistent with our routine, even if we are somewhere else, like a hotel or at Grandma’s.” — Chantal Saville

Naptime can sometimes backfire, especially if it means your little one ends up tossing and turning all night…or wakes up too early.

You can stick to a new plan where, instead of napping, you and your child can do fun things together like puzzles, play with their favourite toys, or dive into some storytime.

Sing

“A wee dose of David Bowie (either recorded or I sing) and nighty-night.” — Jono McGee

Singing to your kids is not just an old bedtime trick; it's a really good one that can help calm them down and make them feel more relaxed.

Get this—a 2021 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that recorded lullabies and live singing by moms improved sleep quality in preterm infants. So, why not give it a shot? Sing your heart out, even if you're a bit off-key!

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Warm

“When my twin boys were teething, I warmed up their blankets or Grobags in the dryer for a few minutes before covering them to go to sleep.” — Lori-Ann Halpenny

Teething can be a challenge for your baby. In addition to using teething toys and ice rings, here's a cozy bedtime tip you could try: just pop their blankets (or Grobags) in the dryer to make them nice and warm.

This cozy warmth mimics that snug feeling of being swaddled, which can really help soothe those teething troubles and maybe even lead to a better night's sleep.

Just be sure to watch their temperature closely to steer clear of overheating.

Ritual

“We have found the biggest key to easy bedtime is routine. Tub, teeth, stories and bed.” — Sheldon Samantha Hann

We can’t say it enough: setting up a bedtime routine for your kiddo is crucial for a solid sleep routine they can use for a lifetime. It'll help them nod off faster and stay on track with their sleep schedule. And what better way to do it than with easy activities such as bathtime, teeth brushing,and storytime? Trust us, their older selves will be grateful!

Adorable little sibling brother and sister brushing their teeth while looking in the bathroom mirror. PeopleImages/ Getty Images

Quiet

“Quiet playtime, dim lights, bath, massage, watch favourite kids’ show at the time, pray, sleep.” — Narie Ju Hong

Want to help your little one calm down before bedtime? Then follow this tip: create a quiet atmosphere to set the stage for winding down.

Opt for puzzles or colouring books as quiet play options over screens, and consider dimming the lights while watching a non-stimulating TV show to set the sleepy mood. You could also try prayer or meditation to help them relax and practice mindfulness at the same time.

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Lie down together

“We lie down with our boys until they fall asleep.” — Deanna Miller Paauwe

Let's be honest: when your little one just can't seem to fall asleep, there's nothing like snuggling up together at bedtime. It gives them a sense of security and deepens the bond between you and your child.

Why not make the most of that cozy time by sharing a story or two? Adding some lullabies can also bring a musical twist to your special bonding moment!

This article was originally published on Jan 21, 2013

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