Help! My kid won't go to sleep!
Don’t worry, here are some tips to put those little mon… err, darlings to bed with minimal drama.
NVivien was two, but she would take up to two hours before she would finally fall asleep. The exhausted father, Adam Mansbach, finally snapped and did what every father could: he took to Facebook to vent. “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the F**k to Sleep!”
Instead of being told off for his language, Mansbach was taken aback as friends and strangers alike commiserated with him about their own children. Thus, in 2011, the book with that rude title was released, and it was an instant bestseller all across America. The parents have spoken: they are exhausted and they really wish their adorable little darlings would just go to bed so that Mommy and Daddy can too!
If your little darling is still running around and bawling at the top of his or her voice at midnight, don’t fret. We have rounded up some tips from experts to help everyone in the family get a good night’s sleep.
THE KIDDIE CANNONBALL
The kiddie cannonball becomes more energetic and excited as the hours go late. He chases Daddy around the house and wants Mommy to draw up the bath so that he can play with his rubber ducky … at 11 pm.
• Slow down. As the child’s bedtime approaches, replace more physical and energetic activities with more relaxed and casual ones. For example, cuddle with your kid at the family sofa for family chit-chats, story time and such.
• Watch your mood. Your kid can pick up on your mood. For example, if you are stressed and restless, chances are he’d be too, and this would affect his ability to go to sleep. So, you should also slow down your pace as bedtime approaches. Move more quietly, talk more calmly and dim the lights if necessary.
• Unwire your child. This means switching off all digital devices – tablets, handphones, computers, TV – at least one hour before bedtime.
THE NIGHTTIME SNOWFLAKE
The nighttime snowflake tends to be very sensitive to her environment, and even the slightest distraction – a noise outside the room, light from under the door, etc – can keep her from falling asleep.
• Find out what is bothering her. This may be tricky, and require some trial and error, as sometimes your kid may not know what is bothering her. Identify possible sources of discomfort and eliminate them one by one. For example, you can start by dimming the lights further, and if that doesn’t work, use softer sheets, offer pyjamas made of more gentle fabrics, make sure the house is quieter during her bedtime and so forth.
• Calm her fears. Sometimes, your child may just be anxious about sleeping alone (especially if she used to sleep with you and has just moved to her own bedroom). Assure her that you are nearby, and leave her bedroom door slightly open as assurance. If she is afraid of the dark, you can leave a soft lamp on to help calm her fears. You should also ensure that her pre-bedtime activities are calm and relaxed at least an hour before bedtime, and avoid exposing her to movies or stories that can make her anxious (violent or scary ones are especially no-no!).
NOCTURNAL HUNGRY HIPPO
Just as you are about to herd him off to bed, he whines that he is hungry. And he is! Some parenting experts believe that this could be because, as a baby, he was given milk before being put to bed, thus he has come to associate bedtime with mealtime. Sometimes, he may go to bed, but wake up later feeling hungry.
• Reexamine your child’s eating schedule. Ideally, your child should be eating healthy, regular meals at appropriate intervals, without skipping any meals. If your child isn’t doing this, it is time to set a mealtime schedule and stick to it. It will help make his hunger more manageable closer to bedtime.
• Try pushing dinner a little later. This will also help manage his hunger better as bedtime approaches.
• Have a simple bedtime snack. Let your child have something light, simple and healthy, such as plain cream crackers, milk or cheese before brushing his teeth and going to bed. Keep portions within reasonable limits – don’t let him overeat, or he will still have difficulties falling asleep.
Rude title aside, Go the F**k to Sleep is actually a funny and light-hearted book that encourages frustrated parents to smile, even laugh at their situation. Take a look at it if you need a pick-me-up through those wearying nights!
1. WedMB. Available at www.webmd.com
2. Healthline. Available at www.healthline.com
3. The Washington Post. Available at www.washingtonpost.com