It’s not always easy being a mom. We give and we give and we give, and then we give a little more. And just when we’re ready for our little one(s) to finally nod off, we realize they want to demand even more of our time and energy! Here’s how to help your child fall asleep so that they can have a restful night, and maybe you can have that treat in peace!
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1. Create A Bedtime Routine
You’ve probably heard this one before, but if you don’t have a solid routine yet, then you probably have some resistance to it. I’m here to tell you that I was one of those moms.
I would struggle night after night with getting my son to sleep while laying down with him for hours on end and missing precious time to work or practice a little self-care. Why would I be so cruel to myself? Why are you resisting something that can actually help your child fall asleep faster?
There are several reasons: I was hesitant to change. I didn’t believe it would make a difference. I semi-tried a schedule and it didn’t work well for me. I’m bad at sticking to schedules. I’m not a routine person. I’m a laid back mom. I like to go with the flow.
The flow was going in the wrong direction. Is that your situation?
My best tip? Find the type of routine that works best for you! I found that a simple routine worked best for me. I have an alarm that goes off when it’s time to start getting ready for bed.
When my son was younger, the routine was:
- Take an Epsom salt bath
- Brush teeth
- Lay down with him & play white noise or lullabies
As he got older, the routine changed somewhat:
- Eat a light meal or drink some broth
- Brush teeth
- Play guided meditations
He still prefers for me to lie down with him, but he can also fall asleep on his own. But the good thing is that it takes around 15-20 minutes for him to fall asleep instead of years. That’s a WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN in my book!
A routine helps in several ways:
- They help your child know what to expect. It is body- and mind-training.
- The structure lessens conflict. Especially with older children, they’ll come to know that’s just what’s done at bedtime.
- It helps you understand what helps. You’ll try a few things and figure out what works for your children.
2. Give An Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt baths are calming, soothing, and helps with muscle aches/”growing pains.” Use 1/4 cup of Epsom salts to start, and you can slowly graduate to about 1 cup. A 1/2 hour soak seems to do the trick.
This Epsom Salt by Saltworks is the best around. It comes in a very fine grain that dissolves pretty much instantly. They also sell scented variations that you might like, but I always stuck with the unscented.
Alternatively, you can try magnesium oil spray or Natural Calm magnesium powder that you can mix into a drink. Both are calming, but the bath seems to really help my son the most!
3. Use Valerian Root Extract (Or Tea)
Valerian root extract helps to quiet the mind. For this reason, it’s great for children who always have a million and one questions at bedtime. My son has ADHD, and an overactive mind. Valerian root extract helps to create peace mentally without making a person drowsy or groggy!
I love these alcohol-free drops, but this Nighty Night Extra tea blend contains valerian root and other herbs that promote restful sleep!
4. Play White Noise
When I first heard of white noise for sleep, I thought it was a crazy concept. Why would a baby or older child want to listen to the vacuum cleaner, rain drops, etc.? But the sleep needed to happen. So I tried the 8hr vacuum sounds video on YouTube and discovered that it was a God-send!
5. Play Hymnals
I stumbled upon the “Om Mani Padme Hum” Buddhist hymnal/mantra by accident. We are not Buddhists. But the music is mesmerizing and the repetitive chanting lulled my son right off to dreamland! He still asks to listen to this one these days, and he’s almost 11! Click here to check it out on YouTube!
6. Try Hypnosis
Hypnosis was very beneficial for me during pregnancy, to help me sleep well and ease anxiety. Hypnosis can do the same for children.
The hypnotic bedtime story track for toddlers by Hypnobabies is super helpful for helping toddlers to sleep. It gives mild suggestions that will encourage your child to relax, fall asleep quickly, and stay in their own bed.
It is available as an MP3 download, which means you can buy it right now and start using it right away! Yay for sleep!
7. Play Guided Meditations
Guided meditations are my son’s new obsession. He loves to use them to calm down, and also to relax for sleep.
The New Horizon channel on YouTube has some guided sleep meditations for children. They may not be suitable for all children because it’s a story-type meditation and especially the first listen might inspire thought and questions. Proceed with caution!
There are, of course, many guided sleep meditations that are more geared towards adults. Many are perfectly fine for children as they mostly talk about relaxing shoulders, controlling breath, and drifting off to sleep peacefully.
8. Use A Night Light
If your child is scared of the dark or has any kind of anxiety about sleep, a night light can be a huge help. There are so many kinds of night lights to choose from. Let your child help to choose it so that it feels extra special.
My son received one of these projector disco night lights as a gift and absolutely loved it. It makes
Sleep training night lights that help with bedtime and wake-up times can also be very helpful. I have several friends who used clocks such as these ones to help their children know when it was actually day and OK to get up without trying to put themselves back to sleep.
Here’s a list of the best night lights for kids, which is super beneficial for finding the perfect night light. You can also check out this post on the best baby night lights for your child’s nursery if your little one is still very young.
9. Introduce A Sleep Buddy
The Scout pup for boys, or Violet pup for girls, can be programmed with your child’s name to be their best friend! There are no gender-specific sayings from these pups, so whichever color works best for your child is absolutely perfect.
It has a sleep mode that plays lullabies, and it’s also soft and cuddly. It has soft lights as well, and your child will love snuggling with this multi-purpose toy!
You can also consider a lovey if your child does not already have one. My son really loved this little teddy bear I got at the dollar store that said a sleepy time prayer. It helped him to feel safe and protected.
10. Try A Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket is helpful for children with special sensory needs. It can help them to feel warm, protected, and grounded. It is literally a blanket with weights sewn into it to provide a “heavier cover.” It is worth a try, especially if you have a very active child. It could be just the thing your child needs to calm down and do the sleep thing.
11. Try L-Theanine
L-Theanine is another supplement that can be helpful for sleep. It is really for calming the mind, especially in those with anxiety. L-theanine is naturally found in certain foods such as lean chicken. It does not make you drowsy, it just quiets the mind so that your child can get the rest you know he or she needs. It also doesn’t have to be taken regularly to work. Taking only on nights your child needs a little extra help is perfectly fine!
You can purchase these capsules from the brand I love most, open and give to your child if they cannot swallow capsules as yet. You can also try this powder for easier administration.
12. Take Them For A Drive
A drive might be the last thing you want to do, but sometimes when you are at your wit’s end, it might be the most sanity-preserving thing you could do! I’ve driven around with a sleepy toddler more times than I care to admit. And not once have I regretted it.
The good thing is that my son is always out like a rock once he finally nods off, so I had no need to worry about him waking up while transferring from the car to bed.
If your child is similar, you might find this helpful so sleep happens faster. You can’t argue with what works if you really want to know how to help your child fall alseep quickly!
13. Take A Walk Outside
A walk outside has always been helpful for my son. When he was a baby, I’d walk with him in the stroller or Ergo. He especially loved walking around while in the Ergo and staring up at the stars.
The ErgoBaby carrier is super comfortable from newborn through toddlerhood. I wore my son with mine until he was 4 years old (in the 30lb range). It was super comfortable and the only reason I stopped was because he became way more independent and wanted to walk (or should I say run…) all the time!
14. Try Warm Broth Before Bed
Broth is great for toddlers and older children. It contains many amino acids, including L theanine, that help promote healthy sleep. It also warms the body and helps provide a full but not bloated belly, which can help children sleep longer. It helps to relieve stomach pain and reduce the chances of having painful gas.
I personally prefer to use homemade broth, salt it liberally.
15. Wake Up On A Schedule
Waking up on a schedule can be so helpful for sleep. This is because it ensures no oversleeping. I know it’s super tempting to let our children wake up whenever they feel like it, especially if we don’t have anywhere to go. But if they wake up at all different times, then it only makes sense that they will fall asleep at all different times!
In addition to waking up around the same time every day (it doesn’t have to be the same time on the dot, rather within a 15-20 minute window either way), going outside to get sunshine early in the morning can really help set the body up to produce the right hormones at the right time.
16. Sunshine EARLY
Why is sunshine early in the morning important? It signals to your body that it is MORNING, and it’s time to release serotonin. You might know it as the “happy neurotransmitter.”
Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone… enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.– Hormone.org
When your body releases serotonin at the appropriate time, early in the morning, your day is more likely to go smoothly. Not only does it lead to a better, more productive day, but it also helps your body to produce melatonin.
You might have already heard about melatonin, a supplement that can be given to promote sleep. The interesting thing is that our bodies are perfectly capable of producing all the melatonin it needs, as long as it gets the proper signals at the right time! All that’s needed is that early morning serotonin dose to help your body have normal melatonin levels and promote restful sleep! This is seriously one of the best ways to help your child fall asleep!
17. Go Swimming More Often
If your child is old enough to go swimming, then you’ve probably experienced how well a healthy swimming session knocks them out. When all else fails, I could almost always count on this working with my son. Whether the beach or the pool, the result was always the same.
A super tired little boy that would often fall asleep on the car ride home. It’s a good idea to try and make sure they eat a hearty meal right after the swim session, or you’re likely to get a midnight wake-up. I’ve been there, and it’s never fun trying to get a child who thinks they slept enough already back to sleep.
18. Rigorous Play A Few Hours Before Bedtime
Rigorous play can help, or backfire. You’ll have to figure out how this one goes with your crew. It’s best to try this at least 2-3 hours before bed, that way you have time to have dinner, some calm-down time, and follow your bedtime routine. Tired folks sleep better. It’s human nature!
19. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice has been touted for it’s sleep-promoting benefits. You can purchase the juice or the concentrate to reconstitute by mixing with water. They also sell tablets, but I think liquid form of anything works better (and it’s easier for children to take).
20. Lavender Tea
Lavender tea is also touted for its sleep-promoting benefits. Tea in and of itself is calming and an activity that can help your child wind down. There are multiple types of tea you can try. Lavender is not recommended regularly for boys, as there is conflicting information
I usually buy bulk lavender buds, but you can try lavender & chamomile teabags or even this Nighty Night tea blend, which does not contain lavender but has chamomile and other sleep-promoting herbs.
21. Calm Down Time Before Bed (No Electronics/”Screen Time”)
Having at least an hour of screen-free time before (or I suppose as a part of) your bedtime routine can really do wonders. All the flashing lights of TV and Internet usage can do a number on the brain. It can keep your child’s mind active instead of getting that lull that promotes falling asleep fast.
You can use this time to cuddle and listen to soft music, read books, or to give your child an extended bath.
22. Give A Gentle Massage Before Bed!
Massages can be super relaxing and help with digestion and promote sleep. I used to love giving my son a massage with olive oil right after his bath. I focused extra attention on his tummy as he had digestive issues. That really helped to work the gas out and secure a better night’s sleep.
23. Try Gentle Sleep Training
If all else fails, you might want to try some gentle sleep training techniques. I’m personally not a fan of Cry It Out and could never do that with my son.
If you are of the same mindset, you’ll be happy to know that there are several books on the market that can help you turn your baby’s sleep patterns around without tears!
Here are some of the gentle sleep training books that come widely recommended by attachment parenting moms:
- The No-Cry Sleep Solution
- The Happiest Baby on the Block
- The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Without Leaving Them to Cry it Out
- The Gentle Sleep Book: Gentle, No-Tears, Sleep Solutions for Parents of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds
Everyone in the family hurts when you can’t figure out how to help your child fall asleep quickly and peacefully. Parents (usually us moms) miss out on sleep, our children don’t get as much sleep and can lead to grumpiness and an even more difficult time sleeping the next day, and we miss precious time that we could spend doing something for ourselves, preparing for the next day, working on our businesses, spending with our significant others, etc.
It can lead to resentment and bitterness, even for the most patient among us!
Hopefully the tips on this list will help you get your little ones to sleep with a faster, more streamlined process. I’d love to hear how it works out for you, or if you thought of something else that really helped your child finally go to sleep!