Many people assume that once bub is able to sleep through the night, that signals the end of bedtime dramas and the return of night time to how it was before kids.
As any parent with an older child knows, solid nights’ sleeps are not something you can bank on, especially if your child has a fear of the dark (which an estimated 17 per cent of children do). So how can you ease your child’s concerns and help them remain asleep and unafraid all night? We’ve got heaps of tricks up our sleeves.
Invest in a comfort toy that promotes closeness.
Most children who are afraid of the dark are between the ages of three and six; however, it can remain a common concern for older children, even adults. Having someone close by is one of the easiest ways to keep the scary thoughts from popping into your mind.
If I didn’t have my partner breathing (ahem, snoring) beside me all night, I would definitely get one. I might even consider swapping him for one anyway…
Keep baddies at bay with a monster spray.
Monsters Away Spray works on all types of monsters – closest ones, cupboard ones, under-the-bed ones and is made with a calming eucalyptus and lavender oil blend. For $10, it’s a great room freshener as well. It’s easy to make your own too
Track the noises.
During the day, make a list of all the things in the house that might creak, squeak and raise fears in your child while he sleeps. The dishwasher, the washing machine, the windows, the wind, an aeroplane overhead, music from the neighbour’s house, the dog wandering around the backyard, cars driving by, the list goes on.
You can make it into a scavenger hunt or bingo-type game to add an element of fun to it.
Or, scare the monsters away with this rabbit (that promises to put your kids to sleep in minutes).
It’s The Rabbit who wants to Fall Asleep and apparently, this literature will literally put your kids to sleep. Children all over the world are falling asleep before the end of this book.
Designed by Swedish behavioural scientist, Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, the Creepy Rabbit Book (as I like to call it in my household), acts as a hypnotic bedtime story and is considered the “the verbal equivalent of rocking your child to sleep”. There’s no time to freak out about monsters under the bed when they’re already snoring their tiny heads off.
Rid fears of the dark with a Glow Away Kit.
The Glow Away Kit is, essentially, a book and a glow-in-the-dark quilt cover, but, in the eyes of a child afraid of monsters and other night terrors, it is a safe haven of comfort and protection. And, with the help of the parents, who have to read the story and play along, it it a great idea that just might work for some little ones.
Practice mindful sleeping.
There’s an app for everything these days, including helping children get a more relaxing night’s sleep. It’s called Sleep Meditations for Kids and is available through iTunes. Yoga teacher, Calm for Kids creator and Montessori teacher, Christiane Kerr designed this children’s meditation app to help children with bedtime anxiety. There are several different bedtime relaxation stories that work somewhat like hypnosis to put your child into a calm state.
And every one knows that monsters don’t attack calm kids.
Kinderling’s amazing Bedtime Explorers podcast for kids is another useful tool:
Download the Kinderling app to hear more great parenting advice and chat on Kinderling Conversation.
Invest in a really cool night light.
We suggest the soft, cuddly Leeluu – a night light that repels monsters. When shadows in bedrooms seem to grow, kids can give Leeluu a squeeze and a magical shadow-chasing, monster-repelling light comes on. Pat its back to dim the light to the perfect brightness and happy dreams are bound to follow. Or take a look in our night light archive for stacks more options.
Do a once-over every night and stick to the routine.
One of the things has got to work, right?
And, if all else fails, invest in the master of all co-sleeping beds.
Because if your child simply refuses to sleep without you in fear of night-time baddies, then you at least need to co-sleep in style! This custom-made seven-sleeper will do the trick.
For mums with babies who won’t sleep, check out our sleep guide on self-settling. And for parents with kids who insist on coming into your bed every night, try these ways to keep kids in their own beds (or die trying).