7 Ways to End Bedtime Battles

Bedtime battles are a common issue among many parents with young children. However, putting your child to bed atend bedtime battles night can become an enjoyable time where you can wind down and spend some quality time with your child. By following a few simple guidelines, the bedtime routine can turn into a more enjoyable experience for the whole family.

7 Tips for a Smooth Bedtime:

  1. Keep the Time for Bed Consistent, and Create a Nightly Routine to Follow – Children respond really well to routines, and it will help them learn what is expected each night.  It will also make the whole bedtime process easier for everyone.
  2. Avoid the Use of Electronics the Last Hour Leading Up to Bedtime – Instead of your child playing video games or watching a movie, have her engage in more calming activities such as reading, coloring or taking a bath before bed.
  3. Gradually Transition Into Bedtime – Do not suddenly tell your child that it is time for bed. Instead, give warnings that bedtime is approaching starting about 45 minutes before she needs to be asleep, and then remind your child again 15 minutes before she needs to be asleep.  Continue to give warnings right until it’s time for bed.  If your child does not yet fully understand the concept of time, you can use a timer to help.
  4. Always Remain Firm but Calm – Never negotiate when you child does not want to go to bed, or if your child gets out of bed repeatedly. Calmly tell your child that it is time for sleep, and lead her back to her bed. In this situation, the less talking, the better.
  5. Adjust Nap Schedules if Necessary – If you notice that your child does not appear tired during her regular bedtime, consider adjusting her nap schedule or eliminating naps altogether.
  6. Give Your Child Choices During the Bedtime Routine – When children have choices, it gives them some degree of control.  This sense of control is likely to make them more compliant. Examples of choices that can be given at bedtime include what books to read, which pajamas to wear, or how many stuffed animals to keep in bed.
  7. Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep Alone in Her Own Bed -These are good skills to teach at an early age.  If your child begins to fall asleep only when a parent is in the room, or only when she is in her parent’s bed, this can become a habit that is difficult to break. Teaching independent sleep early will help alleviate many future bedtime struggles.

Click here for advice on how to deal with night terrors.  For more information on healthy sleep habits, contact our behavior therapy team.

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Bed Time Strategies for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Bed time can be a difficult time for any child.  It can be even more of a struggle for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).   

Bed time strategies for child with SPD

Throughout the day, all children engage in various activities that excite them, including interacting with peers, playing on the playground and fighting with siblings.  It can be a challenge to calm kids down from a daytime of activity. This can be even more of a challenge for a child with SPD.

 As adults, we are able to engage in various tasks to relax our bodies after a busy day.  Children with SPD need the same input, but they are not cognitively aware of their body’s needs.  For example, if an adult has a stressful day, he or she may drink a hot cup of tea, read, or place a hot towel on their face as self-calming techniques.  A child that had a rough day may act out or refuse to go to bed because he or she doesn’t understand what his or her body needs. 

The following strategies can help your child with SPD calm down and improve the process of getting to sleep:

  • Have a Strict Nightly Routine– Completing a predictable bedtime routine decreases anxiety, gives your child control and establishes healthy habits.   A visual schedule of the routine can assist the little ones with understanding the steps.
  • Incorporate Rocking- Typically, slow linear (back and forth), vestibular movement creates a calming effect.  Rocking in a rocking chair or swing is a great activity to help your child wind down.
  • Enjoy Bath Time– Warm water is calming.Incorporating a nice, warm bath at night not only provides your child with calming sensory input, it also provides an opportunity for you and your child to bond over bath play time.  This special, nightly, one-on-one time will also ease the minds of children who may worry about separating from their parents.
  • Read a Favorite Book-Reading your child’s book of choice provides your child with some control.  It is also another great way to relax mind and body.
  • Avoid Excitatory ActivitiesAvoid engaging in alerting activities before bedtime, as this might make it difficult for your child to calm his or her system down and go to bed. Spinning and jumping movements are excitatory and alerting.  In regards to proprioceptive input or heavy work, light touch, such as tickling, is excitatory and alerting.  
  • Avoid Screen Time-Create a rule:  1-2 hours before bedtime no electronics or TV.  This will promote a smoother transition into quiet time.

If your child with SPD needs help with bed time, or if you need more information on Sensory Processing Disorder, contact one of our pediatric occupational therapists today, or download our free SPD infographic.

3 Tips For A Bed Time Routine | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s webisode, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst gives viewers 3 practical tips on how to get your child into a bed-time routine.    Read this blog for more bed-time routine tips:

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What type of bed-time schedule to create
  • Why consistency matter when starting a bed-time routine
  • At what time to start your bed-time routine with your child

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn. Robyn Ackerman: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman, and today I’m standing with a behavior analyst, Katie Sadowski. Katie, can you please give our viewers three tips to getting a child into a bedtime routine? Katie Sadowski: Yes. In regards to getting your child into a bedtime routine, that is something that can be tricky. One thing that is very helpful is creating a schedule. With this schedule, it should be a visual schedule so that the child can see the different pictures. You want to incorporate the different things that need to be done in the bedtime routine. If the child is age appropriate, he should definitely be involved with helping create this schedule. Some things that should be in a bedtime routine schedule would be things like taking a bath, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, getting a drink of water, picking a friend to go to bed with so his favorite teddy bear or maybe just a favorite doll, any kind of stuffed animal that your child likes, as well as reading a book, and then saying goodnight. With this schedule, you want to make sure that any of the activities you use, they are calming. You don’t want to be having activities that would get your child very energetic and hyper. That would defeat the purpose. Also when you are using the schedule, you want to make sure that you pick a time and stick with that time. In regards to the time, you would want to start the schedule about an hour before so that the child is actually done with the schedule and sleeping when you do want him in bed. So, for example, if you want your child sleeping at 7:00, you would start the schedule at about 6:00. Also, with the schedule, it’s very helpful if you can make it to where the kid can put a sticker or a checkmark after he completes each activity. That way, he can see the different steps that he’s completing and how that accomplishments. And one more thing that, at the end, after your story and you say your goodnights, you do then want to go ahead and let your child know that you are going to come back and check on them to make sure they’re sleeping. You don’t want to let your child think, well, mom and dad are gone, so now I can go play or I can sit up and do what I want. Give them that warning that you will be back, and if you do come back and they are up, just say, “Okay, goodnight. I’ll be back a little later.” And that’s something that can definitely help get your child in a routine. Robyn; All right. Thank you so much, Katie. Katie: You’re welcome. Robyn: And thank you to our viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming. Announncer; This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at That’s

Helpful Tips to Get Your Child into a Bedtime Routine

Many parents struggle with getting their children to bed on time. Parents often give their children a bedtime that is not met. To help get your child following a routine and eliminate a bedtime battle, try the following tips.

5 Steps to Creating a Stress-free Bedtime:parents and child at bedtime

  1. Create a picture schedule to help your son or daughter complete their bedtime routine. If it is age appropriate have them help create the schedule with you.
  2. You want to make sure that the schedule is accessible and being used throughout the different bedtime steps. After your child completes each step have them put a sticker or a check mark by it to show that it was completed successfully. Your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride for completing these tasks, as well as, have a visual reminder of what steps are done and what are still remaining before lights out.  Some activities that you can include on the schedule are:
    1. Take a bath
    2. Put on pajamas
    3. Brush teeth
    4. Get a drink of water
    5. Pick a friend to bring to bed (i.e., teddy bear, doll, or another favorite stuffed animal)
    6. Pick out a book to read
    7. Go to bed
  3. It is very important to keep in mind that you should start the bedtime routine at the same time every night about an hour before your child should be sleeping. For example, if you want your child to be sleeping by 8:00pm, start the bedtime schedule at 7:00pm. This ensures you will have enough time to complete all the steps and your son or daughter will not be rushed.
  4. When creating the bedtime schedule, make sure the activities picked are calming. You do not want to have activities that will make your child hyper and therefore, more awake. The point of the bedtime steps are to help them start to wind down and get ready to sleep.
  5. Once you are finished reading a bedtime story to your child, say your goodnights. Be sure to let your child know that you will be back in a few minutes to make sure they are sleeping. Being aware that you plan to come back may help to ensure they do not try to play quietly with toys or look at books. If your son or daughter is still awake when you come back, tell them goodnight again and let them know you will be back later to check on them.

This routine will most likely take multiple tries, and perhaps even some adjusting of steps, before your child will complete the steps without attempting to prolong the process. Remembering to stay consistent is key, and before you know it your son or daughter will be off in dreamland!

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How To Calm Your Child Down Before Bed

Bedtime can be a challenging process for parents and children alike. Many children have a difficult time calming their bodies down before they go to sleep – their engines are often going too fast around bedtime, and this can cause frustration for everyone involved. Here are some strategies that parents and caregivers can use to make bedtime easier.

Calming Strategies for BedtimeCalm Sleeping Boy

  • Use a visual schedule for the bedtime routine so that the child knows what to expect and can feel more organized.
  • Incorporate heavy work activities in the bedtime routine such as wheelbarrow walking; animal walks (e.g. bear walk, crab walk) or have your child help with evening chores like wiping the table after dinner, carrying the dishes, or putting heavier items away in the cupboard.
  • Make your child into a “sandwich” or “hot dog” by wrapping their body tightly in a big blanket and applying deep pressure with a big hug.
  • Dim the lights and play quiet music before bed to calm Read more

Creating a Bedtime Routine for Your Child

Do you find yourself struggling with your child when bedtime approaches? If so, here are some tips for establishing a reliable bedtime routine:


Family BedtimeEssentially, a child’s evening schedule needs to be simple yet flexible so that in the even of a disruption, the basic routine can still be preserved. You could try something like this:


6:00 pm Dinner: Rather than indulging in caffeinated and sugary foods, encourage meals high in complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Fruits such as apples, pears and bananas are always a favorite, while whole grain crackers, bread, and dairy- or soy-based products also help to promote great sleep. Read more