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Family Matters: Getting Kids To Bed

Today, 44News Morning Anchor Melissa Schroeder spoke with Dr. Andrew Benton — from Deaconess — on the topic of getting your child to sleep. She went “Inside the Community” for Family Matters. It’s a segment that airs Tuesdays, in the 8:00 a.m. hour, on FOX44.

Dr. Benton said, “When children don’t get enough sleep, they have a harder time controlling their emotions. Kids who are always sleep-deprived are more likely to have behavior problems, have trouble paying attention and learning, and be overweight.”

Dr. Benton said to make sleep time work, families need to make sleep a priority. Some ways to go about this is to set regular go-to-bed and wake-up times for the entire family and be sure to follow them — even on weekends. Work as a team. If you are starting a new sleep routine for your child, make him/her part of the team by explaining the new plan to her if she is old enough to understand. For a young child, try using a picture chart to help your child learn the new routine, showing actions like changing clothes, brushing teeth, and reading a book.

Routine is also important. According to Dr. Benton, kids love it, they thrive on it, and it works. It helps your child learn to be sleepy, just like reading in bed often puts adults to sleep. It will help your child associate the bedroom with good feelings and give them a sense of security and control. Not all routines will be the same, but find what works best for your family. The routine should include tasks before going to sleep, including brushing teeth, washing up, putting on pajamas and having a snack or drink of water. It is best to keep the routine short (30 minutes or less, not including a bath) and be firm about ending it when it’s time to sleep.

Another question addressed on the segment was bedtime snacks. Are they OK? Dr. Benton said, “Children may need more than three meals a day to keep them going, so a small snack before bedtime can help their bodies stay fueled through the night. Healthy options include whole-grain cereal with milk, graham crackers, or a piece of fruit. Avoid large snacks too close to bed, especially with older kids, because a full stomach can interfere with sleep.” He also talked about stuffed animals and blankets at bedtime. According to Dr. Benton, these items are security objects. Bedtime means separation, and that can be easier for kids with a personal object, like a doll, teddy bear, or blanket. It can provide a sense of security and control that comforts and reassures your child before she falls asleep.

To watch the full “Family Matters” segment that aired today on 44News This morning, click the video box below.

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