# 4 Develop a consistent bedtime routine.
Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep. An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time when you are most tired and least creative
# 5 Create a cozy sleep environment.
Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming.
# 6 Provide the right nutrition.
Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola. Vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect a child’s sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods in three meals plus several snacks for health and good sleep.
# 7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.
Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed. Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise is stimulating – they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!
# 8 Teach your child how to relax.
Many children get in bed but aren’t sure what to do when they get there! It can help to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. A good pre-bed ritual is story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy. Work with these eight ideas and you’ll see improvements in your child’s sleep, and in your sleep, too.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting. Visit her at nocrysolution.com