How to help kids with bedtime anxieties

We have always struggled with our bedtime routine, well we have since Isla has been around. She does not like to sleep. We thought, as the children got older, that the bedtime routine would get easier. It hasn’t really and so we have to try lots of different things to help get through those bedtime anxieties. I have written down some things we did when the kiddies were babies and what we do now, incase this helps any one going through similar.

Bedtime routine for babies

When the kiddies were younger we had a typical bedtime routine: evening meal, a little playtime, bath, story time and then bed. We even invested in Ewan the Sheep to help Isla sleep. It helped for a while as I tried to seperate myself from Isla. She didn’t settle if I left her room before she fell asleep. So up until she was 9 months or so I was spending every evening, until she fell asleep, in her room. The nights of singing, rocking and just being next to her cot were quite hard work. She has always had bedtime anxieties ever since day dot. Noah has always been a great sleeper, right from 6 weeks. It is amazing how brilliant he is at going to sleep.

Bedtime routine for children

These days, Isla is 7 and Noah is 9, we still have our issues and I am 100% certain they stem from when Isla was a baby. Noah is still great at going to sleep, however, he gets woken up by Isla or sometimes get FOMO (fear of missing out) and stays awake longer than he really wants to. Isla gets bedtime anxieties all of the time. She doesn’t like the dark, she doesn’t like the silence, she doesn’t like the temperature of her bedroom… you catch the drift.

bedtime anxieties

I think, on average, 4 out of the 7 nights a week she will come down the stairs upset about something. Not because there is anything the matter, but because she wants some reassurance and a little cuddle. We get through it and then she will go to bed. It is really hard to keep the children settled at bedtimes at this age as they do so much; kids clubs are at random times in the evenings and life means they are not always in bed by 7pm. Which is what I aim for, I am not sure if this time is adequate for a 7/9 year old.

On an average night we do the following: get ready for bed around 6:45pm, clean teeth and go for a wee etc, story time and then get into bed. We have a nightlight in both the children’s bedrooms and Alexa who reads them stories for 30 minutes.

Unicorn bedtime

Toys to help with anxieties

Having a little routine seems to have settled her a little. As I said above, 4 out of 7 nights she still comes down the stairs for a little reassurance. We have recently got her a Rainbow Dreams unicorn from Bandai, to help settle her. A little night light soft toy helps, unicorns are still her favourite thing too. Rainbow Dreams is a cute soft and snuggly toy that you can find for £16.99 on Amazon. She lights up and plays magical sounds too which Isla just loves.

She has a little routine where she puts all her toys in a particular position. She turns her nightlight on and asks Alexa to play her bedtime stories. I created a playlist of bedtime stories for both Noah & Isla.

I am hoping as she gets older and realises she doesn’t have to be scared these anxieties will ease off. It’s so hard to not let it disrupt the family home at bedtimes. Lots of patience and big, supporting, hugs before bedtime! Do you have any tips on helping with bedtime anxieties as we would love to know in the comments below?

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5 Comments
  • Karen Radford
    March 4, 2020

    I have to get in bed with my 5 year old (which means I usually fall asleep too!) but then he usually stays asleep all night

  • Sheena Batey
    March 4, 2020

    I was a terrible child for going to sleep my dad used to sing to me but I always wanted more in contrast my own child went straight off and slept through

  • Susan Willshee
    March 4, 2020

    This isn’t a tip really as it seems you are doing everything right. All I would say is that I think we should realise that children are just little version of adults and not all adults have the same sleep patterns, so it sees a little unfair to expect all children to want to sleep at the same time.
    In our house for example, I never get to sleep before about one am but hubby could drop off on the sofa at eight pm every night. I often go to bed with him at ten (that’s the longest he can last!) but then I just lie there thinking about everything.
    I wonder if it’s the same for some children. Whether the anxieties actually come from just having too much time lying alone in bed and thinking about everything that could go wrong.
    I don’t have an answer I’m afraid, I’m sure I’d be pilloried for suggesting that we let children settle on their own bedtimes. Perhaps we could just make sure that ‘going to bed’ doesn’t actually mean they have to immediately go to sleep and we could allow them to have some toys to talk to or a book to read.

    • Steph T
      March 18, 2020

      I have to usually stay with my little one hut he goes off to sleep quick

  • Susan Smith
    June 24, 2020

    Normally a story kisses and cuddles, is the way to go with us, but she does have nights where like many adults she cant just drop off, i have found this out during lockdown more.

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How to help kids with bedtime anxieties

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