Sleep is vital for all humans, and especially for children, who need plenty to maintain physical health and support brain function, a strong immune system, and healthy growth. Little ones don’t understand these benefits, however, and until they do, parents have to show them the way. We have a few suggestions that will help smooth the transition from fun time to bedtime…

1. Create a bedtime routine

Establishing a good routine – and sticking to it as if it is carved in stone – is so important when it comes to ensuring fuss-free bedtimes. If you repeat the same soothing rituals at the same time every day, your kids will soon begin to associate these activities with sleep. For example, you could start by asking them to lay out their pyjamas on the bed and choose a book for a story before they jump into a nice warm bath. And when they’ve brushed their teeth and are tucked up in bed, you can sing a quiet lullaby, or read the book they’ve chosen, or turn on some quiet, calming music. Once the agreed-upon ‘wind-down’ time is over, a big kiss, lights out and a cheerful ‘Sleep tight!’ should do the trick.

2. Persist and stay calm

Anyone who has dealt with a toddler or preschooler who refuses to go to sleep knows how draining these daily battles can be, especially if you’re exhausted at the end of a long day. However, it’s important to do your best to remain firm and calm, as this will prevent bedtimes escalating into major dramas. Your child will feel more secure if he or she knows that YOU are in control. Make it clear that you will quietly persist with your routine, night after night, until they eventually give up the fight and drift off to Dreamland on time, every time. This could take weeks, even months, but it’s well worth persevering.

3. Find support

You’re religiously following a bedtime routine, but still your little ones are spoiling for a fight every night. What do you do? Reach out for help! Bedtime battles are one of the most common challenges faced by parents, and millions of words of advice have been written offering practical, sensible strategies. Borrow books on the topic from your library, chat to your doctor or clinic sister, or find parenting sites and Mom’s networks on the Internet. Why’s it so important to find solutions to bedtime problems? A child who doesn’t sleep can have a domino effect on the whole family, depriving parents of their own hard-earned sleep and causing unnecessary stress and tension. Good sleeping habits make for happy, well-rested families!