Any suggestions for calming bed time routines for kids besides a bath and reading?
Bath time and reading before bed are the go-to recommendations for a bed time routine to help with sleep training. Unfortunately, my 19 month old gets very excited by these things. A bath refreshes her and books get her so excited that she starts bouncing, grabbing the books and rolling around. We've cut them out, but haven't found suggestions for what we could replace them with. Currently, our routine is a big warm bottle and quiet songs. Sometimes Daddy tells a story he makes. So far, it is working, but I'm curious what other quiet activities parents have used with success.
A warm bath usually used to work for my children. I found a nighttime bath product. It was by Huggies in a purple bottle. It may have had soothing lavender or something in it like that.
The other thing I tried was watching what my children ate after 3 p.m. It seemed anything with sugar, even fruit, would restart them again.
Sadly, I'm allergic to lavender. Even the smell makes me violently ill. I tried baby massage, but she won't lie still. We don't give her much with sugar. Maybe we can cut out the juice with supper. Even heavily diluted with water may be too much.
I also watch what my daughter eats in the afternoon. I sang lullabies and played my mandolin for her to fall asleep by, and that has always worked....and we use Aveeno calming Lavender lotion after bathtime to help calm her...but it can be used even without the bath coming first.
Perhaps something repetitive...like a counting game (even if it's in a book?) It may take some time and patience with a "trial and error" period...but limiting sugar and keeping up the things that work could lead go a routine that is comforting to your daughter and enjoyable to you and your husband.
Books can be such a great part of a bedtime routine. I love that your little girl gets so excited about books but understand that it can be frustrating at bedtime.
Maybe try getting her some books about bedtime (maybe even about a bedtime routine) and then using the routine in the book with her. Limit this book(s) to just bedtime. Also try choosing a special place in your home to read her bedtime story; a rocking chair is a great place for you both to snuggle.
Throughout the evening you could also talk to her about bedtime and what your routine will be before bedtime. Maybe something like, "We're going to eat dinner and then take a bath and you'll get to play in the bath tub. After your bath, we'll play quietly for a little while. Then we're going to put on your pajamas, brush your teeth and snuggle and read your special bedtime book. When we read your bedtime book you need to listen quietly...." Let her know your expectation about bedtime. It may take a little while but she will get into a routine.
I've also heard that television can be very stimulating for little children's brains and to limit tv time in the evening. I don't know if that's applicable to you or not. Also, quiet play activities and quiet music in the background after dinner/bath time can help too.
For my youngest child I had to cut out a lot of the juices, especially Red. Seemed like he was allergic to the dye in them, made him hyper. Juices do have alot of sugar. Other well known additives that cause an allergic reaction include, cyclamate, saccharin, aspartame, sulfites, yellow #5 dye, and blue lake dye. In children it can manifest as hyperness. Aspartame, derived from phenylalanine, can cross the blood brain barrier, and cause wakefulness. The "allergic response" isn't just a runny nose. Other responses include racing heart, headaches, hyperness, acne, and mood changes. Which applies to Adults as well.
Switching to milk is a good idea, as it contains Tryptophan, a natural substance that produces calm, as well as calcium.
During the day, fresh air,sunshine, and physical activity. At night, turning the tv down, turning off bright lights,warm bath, and keeping the "bedtime routine" the same also helps.
With my oldest, when the MASH theme song came on, he knew it was time for bed. He'd even try to change the channel, thinking if I didn't hear it, it wouldn't be time.
Good luck, it takes time and patience, remain consistent, and it will change.
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