New Idea - - Practical Parenting -

Do you have a lit­tle pre-schooler who finds bed­time as ap­peal­ing as eat­ing cold por­ridge? It can feel like you are fight­ing a bat­tle that you’ll never win, but Fran Chavasse, au­thor of The Tre­sil­lian Sleep Book and a se­nior nurse ed­u­ca­tor has some golden tips to take out the stress – for ev­ery­one!

1. NO TV FOR TWO HOURS BE­FORE BED “It’s not the TV that’s dis­tract­ing, it’s the blue light that TVS, tablets and any sort of elec­tric de­vice give off,” says Fran. “They’re stim­u­lat­ing bright lights that will dis­rupt your child’s sleep. As hard as it is, it’s a good idea to keep them away from de­vices, games con­soles and any screen for at least one to two hours be­fore bed, if you can. The other golden rule is don’t have a TV in your child’s be­d­room. These rules can be hard to en­force but un­less you do, your child’s senses can be stim­u­lated and they’ll nat­u­rally feel more awake.”

2. NO CAFFEINATED FOOD OR DRINKS AF­TER 12PM “When we think of caf­feine, we think of cof­fee, but you can find it in a lot of foods or drinks that you might not sus­pect!” says Fran. “Caf­feine is a stim­u­lant, so it’s very hard for a child to sleep af­ter con­sum­ing it. Check la­bels, but it’s found in choco­late, pud­dings, cakes, en­ergy drinks and fizzy drinks. See if you can limit any high-en­ergy foods, so if you do give these to your child, it’s be­fore lunch.”

3. HAVE A CLEAR BED­TIME AND STICK TO IT “This is eas­ier said than done in a busy house­hold, but preschool­ers are no dif­fer­ent to us,” claims Fran. “Adults of­ten go to bed at the same time most nights. We have a rou­tine like tak­ing off our makeup, clean­ing our teeth, read­ing a book, and al­though we don’t re­alise it, we fol­low a cer­tain pat­tern. We never just get up and get into bed. We might have a warm drink of milk, turn the lights off, check all the win­dows and doors. Tod­dlers and pre-school­ers are no dif­fer­ent to that. We all need some rit­u­als and wind-down ac­tiv­i­ties. This can be hav­ing a bath af­ter din­ner, drink­ing milk from the same cup, read­ing a story or say­ing good­night to all the toys. As long as it’s a quiet ac­tiv­ity, it doesn’t mat­ter what it is, but try to keep it to the same ones ev­ery night so your child knows what is com­ing next. If you an­nounce it’s time for bed when they are in the mid­dle of a run­ning-around game, they won’t make an easy tran­si­tion from day to night. You’ll be sur­prised how well it works.”

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