Managing Bedtime

and recognising the signs of tiredness

Managing Your Child’s Bedtime

At the end of a long day, getting your little one off to bed can be quite a challenge and a chore that may be destined to get on your last nerve when you are tired from all that daily exertion. When they are small, every day seems like an adventure with so many new things to see and do, so many new images and so much to explore.

How To Get Your Child Excited About Bedtime

Often times your child will just not want to go to bed and will be too excited about what they are doing, or the thought of more exciting things to come.

Our motherly instincts should tell us that we need to create an incentive of some kind to encourage them to look forward to bedtime, just as they are looking forward to playing with their favorite toy. You need to make them psyched about going to bed – it will make your job a whole lot easier when it comes to the end of the tiring day.

Create a Routine

One of the first things we should do is to create an enjoyable routine, which can be easily repeated. Whilst young minds are looking for stimulation, education and growth, they also value the stability of a routine and if you make it fun, then you can achieve two goals at once.

Try and incorporate the chores that need to be completed before they lay down into your plan. For example, they may need to have a bath, use the bathroom, brush teeth and then go to bed. Give your child the opportunity to do a few things their own way in this routine and they will “buy into it” more quickly.

Create a Theme in the Bedroom

Often one of the best ways to make the bed seem more attractive is to make it look appealing. You should know several of their favourites at this point – for example, they could have a favorite character from one of the books that they have been reading, or a movie, cartoon or TV character they relate to. Why not create a theme in the bedroom, as you can get complete nursery bedding and accessory set themes based on almost every imaginable character.

Dress Them in Fun Pyjamas

Whilst you’re thinking about themes, why not make the PJs more theme oriented. If you put a little thought and imagination into it and think way back to when you were a child of their age, you should be able to make bedtime something that they really look forward to as opposed to fighting against. Creating a special theme with appropriate nursery decoration could be fun for you as well as for them! Add some little games or other routines just prior to lights out and you should both be in for a restful night.

How to Understand When Your Child is Tired

Next time, when you know your baby or child is due for a sleep, look for the following signs of tiredness and move them off to bed. They will be much more relaxed – as will you!

Newborns signal tiredness by:

  • closing her fists up around her cheeks
  • tugging at her ears
  • fluttering her eyelids
  • having difficulty focusing her eyes
  • sucking on her fingers
  • jerking her arms and legs
  • yawning
  • looking worried
  • arching her back

Older babies express tiredness by:

  • needing constant attention
  • becoming disinterested in her toys
  • getting fussy with her food
  • becoming clumsy
  • getting clingy
  • crying easily
  • displaying grizzly behaviour

Once your baby starts to grizzle – a low-grade constant crying – they are absolutely exhausted so try to avoid letting them get to that stage before tucking them into bed. Before putting your baby down to sleep, try to provide some quiet time to allow her to relax.




Melissa Scaife, Mother of 3 children and owner of Fit Kidz Learning Centres.

All stories by: Mel