How To Calm Your Child Down Before Bed

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Bedtime can be a challenging process for parents and children alike. Many children have a difficult time calming their bodies down before they go to sleep – their engines are often going too fast around bedtime, and this can cause frustration for everyone involved. Here are some strategies that parents and caregivers can use to make bedtime easier.

Calming Strategies for BedtimeCalm Sleeping Boy

  • Use a visual schedule for the bedtime routine so that the child knows what to expect and can feel more organized.
  • Incorporate heavy work activities in the bedtime routine such as wheelbarrow walking; animal walks (e.g. bear walk, crab walk) or have your child help with evening chores like wiping the table after dinner, carrying the dishes, or putting heavier items away in the cupboard.
  • Make your child into a “sandwich” or “hot dog” by wrapping their body tightly in a big blanket and applying deep pressure with a big hug.
  • Dim the lights and play quiet music before bed to calm children by decreasing the amount of sensory input.
  • Slow, rhythmic rocking in a rocking chair or on a parent’s lap can help to slow a child down before bedtime.
  • Have your child hold a squishy ball to squeeze during story time. This will provide them with calming tactile input.

Hilary Lee

Hilary Lee, M.P.H., M.S., OTR/L is a licensed Occupational Therapist. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences, and then the University of Illinois Chicago with a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She then went on to pursue her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of Illinois Chicago. Hilary is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and is dedicated to addressing the needs of children and helping them be successful in their everyday lives.

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4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks Hilary! As a mom of a 4 and 2 year old, these tips are great! I can’t wait to use them tonight.

    Reply
  2. Melissa Edmunds
    Melissa Edmunds says:

    I think I am going to take the idea of making a visual of my son’s evening routine. Even though he knows what the routine is, I think it would be neat for him to be able to move a Velcro piece across the chart. Thank you for all the idea’s. I have a 3 year old and I always spend 2-3 hours every night trying to get him to stay in his bed and go to sleep. I let him watch TV until he goes to sleep, I know that people say it’s a bad idea but it is a habbit and I don’t know what to replace it with. My 1 year old is totally different, he pretty much goes right to sleep and he has no TV or radio or anything. I hope that trying all of your ideas will help with my 3 year old. Thank you again!

    Reply

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