We know it’s difficult to get your children to fall asleep at the best of times, but if they’re excited about a special event such as Christmas Day or a birthday, it can be an extra big challenge. But fear not, we’ve got some top bedtime tips for you at Christmas, and throughout the year, to help you get your little elves off to the Land of Nod.
It pays to plan ahead.
Whether it’s Christmas Day, a birthday or other special event, your little one will enjoy it much more if they’ve had a good sleep the night before. That may take a little bit of planning but it will be worth the effort. Making the morning physically active and getting your little ones outside to exercise will burn off energy and tire them out1. In the late afternoon, start to wind them down with a family movie or a board game. After a nutritious supper, (check out some great recipe ideas here) make things even slower and more relaxing to prepare them for bedtime. If your child is able to tell the time, agree on a wake-up time for the next day.
Create a calming bedtime routine.
This is good practice throughout the year. A regular pattern of quiet activities before bedtime can really help your child to sleep2. These could include: a warm bath before bed with lots of bubbles, playing relaxing music as they get ready for bed, or reading a soothing story in a cosy chair under a soft or weighted blanket. Keeping lights dim is also a good way to prepare your child for sleep.
Avoid fizzy drinks or a large meal close to bedtime.
Leave the late-night mince-pie munching to Santa! Giving your little one lots of snacks or a large meal just before bedtime can prevent sleep1. Many fizzy drinks contain caffeine which is a stimulant so it is best not to give these after lunchtime. Milk can help your child settle1, so try a healthy snack about an hour before bed. Why not try a snuggly hot chocolate enriched with PaediaSure Shake? And remember to brush their teeth.
Try to keep your child’s bedroom quiet and calm2 .
New toys are very exciting but if your little sleepy head is likely to be distracted by them at bedtime it is probably best to remove them from their bedroom. Keep their room quiet and exclude outside light with thick curtains. A hot room can also be hard to sleep in so try to keep the temperature between 16ᵒC and 20ᵒC.
Switch off technology at least an hour before bedtime.
Of course, kids love some down time in front of the TV or iPad, but screens can have a negative impact on your child’s sleep1. By creating a technology-free environment at least an hour or preferably two hours before bed, you can help to create a sleep-friendly zone. It’s best to remove technology from your child’s bedroom at bedtime too. Why not try a bedtime story (or two or three) instead? It will help your little one nod off nice and early, ready for the day ahead.
1Great Ormond Street Hospital June 2020 https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/medical-information/procedures-and-treatments/sleep-hygiene-children Accessed 31st May 2022.
2NHS, October 2020 https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/healthy-sleep-tips-for-children/ Accessed 31st May 2022.