Calming Bedtime Strategies

As any parent knows, a good night’s sleep is a gift from the gods. For kids, the quality of nighttime slumber not only affects their mood but also their growing bodies. Kids’ bodies and brains need at least 10 or 11 hours of sleep each night in order to restore lost energy and sort through stores of information acquired each day. Lack of sleep can leave kids unable to think clearly the next day and make it difficult for them to follow directions and stay on track in school. It is also believed that too little sleep can negatively affect children’s growth as well as their immune systems.

Bedtime can cause anxiety for children who don’t like to be separated from their parents and confusion for kids who don’t understand why they need to sleep when their parents are still awake. As a toddler, my son had a hard time dropping off to sleep, and now that he is older, I see that he is a night-owl. For him, a routine is vital.

Thankfully, there are plenty of things parents can do to help calm kids in advance of bedtime, so once the hour arrives they’re ready to fall asleep. Creating and consistently sticking to a calming bedtime ritual is key. Here are some tips on how to get your little one off to Dreamland:

Calming foods Certain pre-bedtime snacks can help calm and soothe kids, such as a small bowl of plain yogurt. The culturing process makes yogurt easier to digest than milk, but stay away from fruit flavors because the added sugar may cancel out the desired calming affect.

Aromatherapy Use calming scents such as lavender to help the body and mind unwind. A warm bubble bath is a fun bedtime routine.

Massage Gently massaging children of all ages while they lie in bed can help set the stage for sleep. Take your kids straight from the tub onto a favorite oversized towel lying on the bed. Massage them with gentle strokes. For a how-to on baby massage, visit

Story time There are many benefits of reading to your children before bed, including increasing their interest in reading, boosting their vocabulary, and of course, bonding with them. Plus, it’s a memory parents and their children will cherish.

A few things should not be included in a calming bedtime routine because they are detrimental to sleep. Watching TV, exercising, or being active too close to bedtime can make it difficult for kids to fall asleep.

Jessica Iclisoy is the founder of California Baby, a natural skincare line for babies, kids, and sensitive adults. Visit her website at