This is a guest post from Kate Trout, the author behind Maternity Glow.
© Gianfranco Bella/Dollar Photo Club
As a child, I remember going through a short period of time when I was afraid to go to bed. I can’t remember if it was the darkness that bothered me, or the tales that my cousin told me of vampires, witches, or ghosts that kept me up worrying at night.
But now, as a parent, I feel as though I can sympathize when my child faces his nighttime fears!
If you are going through this trying time, read on to gain some tips and tricks that will help you calm your child and get them to sleep soundly once again.
Tips & Tricks for Coping with Nighttime Fears
1. Consider This: It’s Most Likely a Phase
Have you noticed that ever since your child turned three, they have started to express concern with going to bed? Around age three many children become afraid of different things they weren’t afraid of before (and sometimes this happens before age 3).
The good news is that most pediatricians tell parents they are going through a phase, as children often do. When a child turns three, their imaginations begin to get the best of them. And, when sleeping alone, it’s easy to imagine the worst, with no one nearby to immediately soothe them.
So when you’re about to lose your patience, keep calm and remember that their fears are not permanent!
2. Use a Night Light
If your child is mainly afraid of the room being dark, a quick fix is to plug in a night light so they can sleep, but still see their surroundings.
There are many awesome lights on the market that project their favorite character on the wall and whose image can be changed nightly. In addition to a light, consider keeping their bedroom door open. The light from the hallway and other rooms will filter into their bedroom—and they will feel less closed in with the door slightly ajar.
3. Break Out Your Baby Monitor
Children feel at ease when they know they can have direct access to their parents (if needed) when they are in bed.
One surprising idea, then, is to break out your baby monitor so they feel assured that you can see them and hear them.
Plus, if your monitor is a two-way model, you can use soothing words and they can speak to you without getting out of bed!
© Myst/Dollar Photo Club
4. Give Them a Sleep Buddy
Many parents begin to let their children climb into bed with them once nighttime fears surface. While I don’t do this personally, you have to do what you feel is right for you and your child!
An alternative to try before doing this is giving your child a sleep buddy; a stuffed animal that is able to play soothing music, light up as needed, or even hug back (it’s amazing what is on the market today!) can work wonders.
The presence of something soft and comforting may help your child kick their fears—especially of being alone in a dark room—and help everyone get some more sleep!
5. Monitor What They Watch
I try not to allow my toddler to watch any kind of programming that has monsters, ghosts, or ghouls. Scary scenes may linger in their brains and they are likely to think about scary and disturbing scenes when alone at night.
So try to keep things happy and light, only showing upbeat and educational shows.
From time to time, they may accidentally see something in passing. Don’t ignore it. Address what they saw and explain to them it’s only make-believe!
6. Wind Down Before Bed
Children tend to sleep better when they relax before bed. So turn off the electronic devices and dim the lights. Put away their toys that sing and flash. Don’t encourage them to run around the house, and put away any balls or other high-energy toys.
Reading a story to them is a great way to get them to calm down and prepare for a nighttime routine. Give them a warm bubble bath, apply calming lavender lotion, and make sure that their room is a comfortable temperature.
You may even want to cuddle with them for a bit—rub their back, stroke their hair, and help them drift off to sleep peacefully.
If your child begins to demonstrate nighttime fears, consider trying these six tips and tricks to help them sleep more soundly tonight!
Kate Trout is the author behind Maternity Glow, A New Mom’s Guide to Figuring it All Out. She’s a coffee addict, wine drinker, cheese lover, and is kind of obsessed with baby laundry detergent. Oh, and she’s also Mom to the two cutest little kids.