8 Ways NOT to put a Preschool kid to Sleep

A Day in the Life, How


Edie was what they call an easy baby, sleeping well, gaining weight quickly, and usually cheery and alert. Rory has been just as pleasant, already sleeping long stretches at night and growing like a moose.

But babyhood doesn’t go on forever- right now I’m afraid we’re in transition to lose Edie’s nap forever. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve worried about it and nothing is sure yet. It’s a bit disheartening, as I have always had this fantasy of all the children sleeping at once. Right now, my dreams are actually coming true, but that last round with the girl was hard won, like most of her sleep this week. While Rory crashes out all through the day and night, Edie has come into the age where being put in bed is about equivalent to being tossed in a dungeon.

It’s feeling less predictable which might work at any given time, but I have a few tricks I’ve been rotating through. The biggest trick is maintaining intentionality: setting the stage for sleep with a gradual transition, soothing routine, and having all the obvious physical needs- water, potty, snack- handled before the final lights out notice. Beyond that, we’ve tried out evening baths, gentle remedies, essential oils, massage, and guided imagery, each of which have felt positive and would probably work better if used consistently.

Here are some things that don’t work:

1. Get totally distracted by grown-up conversation and fail to move toward bed for an hour into target sleep.

2. Put kid in bed without water, potty, or Helen (or doll/stuffy of choice).

3. Get smacked by exhausted child, and reactively throw kid into dark bedroom.

4. Aggressively hurry child through bedtime routine, threatening cavities to children who miss their chance to brush teeth.

5. Travel to see exciting family members, arriving at bedtime.

6. Read bedtime story in triple time in order to quickly return to other child, now screaming.

7. Read bedtime stories you enjoy too much, especially with vivid voice acting and sound effects.

8. Successfully put child to bed, then remember vital accessories for evening chores stored in closet adjacent to child’s bedroom.

But you know, if Internet advice really worked….