12 simple ways to wind kids down before bedtime

Kinderling News & Features

When it comes to young children, there seems to be no limit to the amount of rough and tumble raucous play they have the energy for each day. From sun up (and sometimes earlier!) to sun down, they are just go, go, go ...

Which can make getting them quiet and ready for bed super-challenging. Introducing calming play ideas in the lead up to bedtime is one of the best ways to change the soundtrack of their play from ‘let’s party!’ to ‘chill out sessions.’

1. Pull out the calming playdough

All toddlers love to squish and mould playdough, which in itself is a relaxing activity, but add a dash of lavender oil to their favourite pastime and they’ll also enjoy it’s calming aroma. Here’s the recipe from Living Well Mom.

2. Create a snugly reading nook

Simply toss a few cushions on the floor of a ‘tent’ made out of an old sheet (we do this by throwing one over a couple of chairs) to create a snugly reading haven. Give your little ones a torch if it’s dark and a basket of books for them to flip through. Alternatively, if your kid isn't a confident reader, you can put on one of the many free audio "bedtime" books on the Kinderling app:

3. Have a play picnic

This one couldn’t be easier. Spread out a picnic rug on the floor and place a puzzle, building blocks or other quiet construction toys in the middle. For some reason, my boys are more likely to sit and focus on an activity when there’s a designated play spot.  

4. Make zen glitter salt

Simply add some glitter, food colouring and calming lavender essential oil to a zip-lock bag of salt to make pretty glitter salt (from The Imagination Tree). Then, pour it into a tray with some sand toys and your toddler will have a magical zen garden to explore.  

5. Light a candle

There is something mesmerising and hypnotic about looking at a flame. Light some candles for your child (out of their reach, of course!) and watch as the flame stills and captivates them. 

6. Put on some relaxing music

My sons’ kindy always play spa-like music when I drop them off. It’s relaxing and even I walk away feeling calmer after the morning daycare rush. Change your household atmosphere by flicking on some calming music. Don't know where to find it? We have plenty of sleepy-time music for kids on the Kinderling app, or online - like these Sleepy Soundtrack special:

7. Make a leaf collage

All you need is some leaves gathered from the garden and glue to create this sweet nature picture (from The Imagination Tree). The simple task of walking outside to gather the leaves and then gluing and pressing them onto paper is beautifully unwinding.

8. Colour in together

Focusing on staying within the lines and bringing a picture to life with colour is wonderfully calming – for little kids and adults alike. Grab yourself one of the many grown up colouring books in the shops these days and rediscover this soothing activity with your child.  

9. Make pom poms

All you need is an old toilet roll and a ball of wool to make a pom pom (check out this how-to from The Craft Train). Cute, colourful and best off all, pom-pom making is relaxing fun.

10. Run a relaxation bath

A lovely soak in the tub is relaxing for anyone. Rather than rush your kids through this part of the day though, try using it as a way to wind them down. Pour in some bubble bath with a splash of essential oils like lavender, chamomile or cedar wood and encourage them to relax in the warm water. Leave washing their hair for another night if this brings on the bath time battles.

11. Create some sensory magic

Plastic bottles filled with water and glitter and other things are mesmerising to little ones. As they turn them upside down and watch the sparkles float about, they will also start to mellow. Check out the easy how-to instructions to make your own from Rhythms of Play.

12. Settle Petal

If you're needing help creating a good bedtime routine in your home, let us help you out! Tune in to Settle Petal on Kinderling Kids Radio from 5pm to 8pm. We'll guide your little ones through stories, bath time and calming meditations!

This article was originally published on Babyology.