My child doesn't want to go to bed anymore, what can I do?

Mijn kind wil niet meer naar bed, wat kan ik doen?

Restless nights, we as parents know them all too well. In the early years, those sleepless nights in children are primarily caused by not being able to sleep through. But it can also happen that your child suddenly doesn't want to go to bed at all. Back to square one. Although this may feel desperate for you as a parent, there is often an underlying reason why. What can you do about it? And more importantly, what is that reason? In this article, you'll learn more about it.

The reason your child suddenly doesn't want to sleep anymore

First things first: it's completely normal for children to go through this phase. The best news? It usually passes on its own. But of course, that doesn't make it any less annoying for you. Often, it has to do with consistent parenting, a lack of a fixed routine, or oddly enough, sleep deprivation. Here are a few reasons why your child suddenly doesn't want to go to bed:

  • New environment: For children, a new environment or a change in the space where they sleep can cause unrest. Something in the room is different now, or maybe you've moved, causing your child to still adjust to the new surroundings.
  • A new way to seek attention: Don't underestimate your child, they are often smarter than we think. If you give your child more attention before bedtime because you're afraid of what's to come, be cautious. Children pick up on this quickly and then use it as a means to seek attention.
  • Growing pains: Sooner or later, all children experience growing pains. Quite unpleasant, of course. Fortunately, this usually goes away on its own over time.
  • Discipline: No means no. If children eventually realize that they can still stay up or get their way after a while of nagging, they will keep repeating this. Therefore, try to be strict about this from an early age.
  • Worrying: Children can also be lost in their thoughts or troubled about something. Has something happened at daycare or is your child not feeling quite right at school? Try talking about it together.
  • Parental stress: Children always reflect back to you. If you're not feeling well or something is currently going on at home, they'll pick up on it immediately. Therefore, take good care of yourself and also choose relaxation.
  • New sleep routine: At some point, children's sleep routines need to be adjusted. That means going from one or more naps a day to only sleeping at night. This can upset children initially. Gradually adjust to the new routine and take your time. Again, this usually resolves on its own.

Think there might be something else going on than the above points? Try talking to your child about their sleep behavior. Nothing comes out of it? Then a visit to the doctor may be wise.

Tips to help children sleep better

If your child is no longer sleeping and you're at your wits' end, here are a few tips that might help:

  • Put them back in bed: If you take children out of bed or let them sit with you as soon as they start crying, they'll catch on quickly. So just put your child back in bed when they cry. Time-consuming, but efficient. We promise.
  • Ensure a good bedtime: A healthy sleep routine is essential for young children. Did they sleep less during their nap during the day? Then they can go to bed earlier in the evening. And vice versa, did they sleep longer in the afternoon? Let them stay up a bit longer in the evening.
  • Sleep routine: A sleep routine can also help. By that, we mean: the same steps and times for bedtime every evening. In some of our previous blogs, we've given tips on a sleep routine, read them here.
  • Night light: One of the most common reasons why children suddenly don't want to sleep is because they're afraid of the dark. First and foremost, it's important to acknowledge your child's fears. Then they'll feel heard and safe. Another tip: get a night light! These don't give off too much light and often have a timer that automatically turns them off after thirty minutes. Check out some nice examples of night lights here.
  • Relax: If children are too busy during the day, it can affect their sleep routine. Children are literally over the top. To prevent this, it's wise to schedule rest moments during the day. Do something calm together like reading a book or listen to some quiet music.

A good night's sleep is essential, both for parent and child. With these tips, you'll surely find your way to dreamland – guaranteed!

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