Helping Your Child Go to Sleep at Night

Every parent’s challenge!

Today’s post is written by Sukey Molloy. Sukey Molloy is a children’s music performer, award winning recording and video artist, and former professional modern dancer. Based in Nyack, NY, Sukey has studied Developmental Movement, Kidnastics, and Infant Development, and has designed and taught music and movement programs in nursery schools, after-school programs, and elementary schools.  In 2005 Sukey launched her own program of “Mommy & Me” classes and teacher training workshops, creating PlayMove&Sing Inc.  Sukey Molloy’s latest CD release, “I Am Sleepy!” was released in October of 2012 and is available at Back to Sukey’s own words:

I have experienced many a night trying to help my children go to sleep. My husband and I read “A Tournament of Knights” so many times out loud that the pages eventually fell out and our sons still knew whether or not we had skipped a word. The same was true with “Goodnight Moon”. I have found that children thrive on ritual, and that they need a lot of encouragement when learning how to “let go” of the day. Transitioning from day to nighttime is an awesome task.

I’d like to share a few bedtime rituals that have helped me with my children, and with my music and movement class participants who share their experiences at circle time. I hope you’ll let me know what works for you.

Here they are!

Say goodnight to the whole world.  Say goodnight to the whole world with your child at bedtime. Name the special people loved near and far. Name the many different animals that live all around the globe. Name the oceans, the trees, the mountains, the stars, the moons, and the suns. This can help a child feel that the whole world is right there with them as they fall asleep.

Share moments from the day. Share with your child special moments you each remember from the day. What was fun? What was silly? What was sad? What was hard? See what you can remember together. With a little prompting, even toddlers can do it.

Read a story. Read a story out loud to your child, but only one! Choose a book together earlier in the day, and with your child, leave the book under the pillow. When bedtime comes, the chosen book will already be there waiting.

Tell a story. Create your own story to tell (on the spot) at bedtime, continuing each night with more episodes. You will surprise yourself. My husband told hundreds of “Purple Bird & Talking Banana” stories that were never rehearsed. Your child will help you with content to be sure!

Use a special goodnight puppet. Include a new or favorite hand puppet as part of your child’s nighttime ritual. You can use the puppet to say or sing goodnight to loved ones and treasured objects in the room.

Listen to a story. Play audio stories to help your child fall asleep. Stories can be very soothing. Don’t be surprised if your child wants to hear the same one over and over again.

Put a favorite toy to bed. Your child will love to make a special “bed” for favorite toys and stuffed animals to sleep in at night, complete with blanket and pillow. Your child will feel very nurturing being in a parenting role at bedtime.

Turn on the night light. Invite your child to “turn on” the night light before going to sleep. If it’s a self adjusting light, see if there’s a way you can help your child participate in that moment.

Learn a lullaby.  Learn a special lullaby to sing to your child at bedtime.  When I was young, I remember my mother sang to me and I was enraptured. She sang the same songs night after night and it was very comforting.

Move the bathing ritual earlier. Move your child’s bath, pajama, and tooth brushing ritual earlier in the evening (or day) if possible, to eliminate stress. Too many things to do at bedtime can be exasperating.

Listen to music. Play your child’s favorite quiet time music at bedtime. It’s a great way to drift off to sleep. But, decide together earlier in the day what the music choices will be. Draw a picture together about one of the songs, and save it to look at, at bedtime.

Make a wish. Make a special wish together with your child before going off to sleep. Making a wish can create a sense of security, especially when the wish is made for someone else.

Hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses are of course the highlight of any nighttime ritual. Make sure you enjoy your time together, even if it takes longer than you intended. You’re creating memories for a lifetime.

Thank you to Sukey Molloy for sharing your expertise and experiences with Because Babies Grow Up readers. Stay tuned next week for a giveaway from Sukey!

What works in your bedtime routine? What suggestions are you interested in trying?


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