Cooper, 5, is a “life-of-the-party kind of kid,” says his mom, Stephany Wiestling, and his exuberance doesn’t end when nighttime falls and his parents are ready to unwind for the day.
“He has always slept the minimum number of hours for his age and relishes any distraction to keep himself awake,” says Wiestling, 41, of Golden Valley, Minn. (pop. 20,281).
To help Cooper get enough sleep, Wiestling created a soothing nighttime ritual when he was an infant. “We started with a warm, calming bath,” she says, “then put on his pajamas quietly in his lamp-lit room. And we read the same three stories every night in the same order, in the same rocking chair.”
The family’s routine is a good one, says professional nanny Michelle LaRowe, because it covers the “three B’s of bedtime”: bath, books and bed. LaRowe, of Hyannis, Mass., says bedtime customs should begin after dinner, which marks the transition into downtime.
“A warm bath will help signal to your child’s body that sleep time is near,” says LaRowe, author of Working Mom’s 411. “Follow that with a few short storiesthe same number, but no more than threewhich can help settle your child down before lights out. Then tuck your child in with a goodnight kiss followed by an ‘I love you’ for the perfect way to end the day.”
LaRowe also suggests sharing a consistent phrase, rhyme, poem or prayer with each other before bedtime. It helps your child feel safe and secure.
For Wiestling’s son, the bedtime rituals have worked great. “Even if we have a baby sitter, Cooper knows what to do and has, on occasion, put himself to bed without skipping a step,” Wiestling says.