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We all remember being little with seemingly boundless energy to run around and play, especially before bedtime! Now have the roles flipped? Do you find yourself running behind your little one hoping they will decide to turn in for the night? We have put together a list of bedtime stories that may entice your little one to get into bed.
Internet resources and fellow parents may be telling you 7.30 pm is the right time to get your child in bed. But your toddler is not ready to hit the sack just yet. You are not the only frustrated parent; studies show that up to 30 per cent of young children have trouble sleeping. Research also shows that a consistent bedtime routine significantly improves sleep behaviours – helping kids settle into sleep and reducing night wakings.
However, your child still struggles to wind down for bed even after that consistent bedtime routine you have been following since their birth. A small tweak to the routine could do the trick (and possibly save your sanity): bedtime stories.
In this article, we discuss why adding books to your little one’s current bedtime routine can work wonders and list a few of our favourite bedtime stories.
If you have lived in a multigenerational household (even if it was during vacations), there must have been at least one occasion when you drifted off to blissful sleep listening to one of your grandmother’s stories.
It’s not that grandma’s stories were boring, but they were designed to be lulling. Now, scientists have found that reading or listening to stories before bed has many benefits.
1. Helps in your child’s brain development: Reading to your child at bedtime can potentially improve their language skills. Listening to stories stimulates the neurons in their brain that processes language sounds. The more frequently your baby hears these sounds, the more familiar they are with them and hence the faster they become at processing them. Over a period of time, your child’s vocabulary grows and this forms an early foundation for their conversation skills. Bedtime stories are also known to improve logic skills and reduce stress levels in children.
2. Develops empathy in your child: Do you remember that feeling when you watch someone do something – for instance, score a goal in football or dance to a particular tune – and you feel exactly what they are feeling, as if you were doing it? Researchers have identified certain brain cells, named mirror neurons, as responsible for such feelings and the neuroscientific reason for empathy. And there have been studies which have found a correlation between mirror neurons and reading or listening to stories. Bedtime stories give babies a window to gaze at and think about the lives of the characters and the different activities they engage in. This helps them to relate to and in a way, empathise with these characters.
3. Better sleep quality for your little one: Stories transport the listener (and the reader!) to a different world. It helps a child imagine and be creative. All this relaxes and calms them, right before they drift off to sleep. Not to mention, a bedtime story book is a great way to escape screen time. A good story can ensure quality, uninterrupted (okay, less interrupted) sleep for your child.
Age group: 3 to 5 years
Author: Joshua Jay
Now you can truly wish your child ‘Sweet Dreams’ because this book is all about how dreams are made. This interactive book gives children a fun rundown of what it takes to fall asleep. With your child snug in their bed, you can help them turn the flaps, pull the levers, or spin the wheels. The vivid colours on each spread makes it a fun, calm reading experience for your tiny tot right before bed.
Age group: 3 to 5 years
Author: Ya-Ling Huang
Written to the tune of the popular nursery rhyme ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush’, the book narrates how the dogs in Dogtown go about their lives. The illustrations in the book are thoroughly detailed. We love this book because it is relatable to toddlers.
Age group: 0 to 2 years
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
A classic of bedtime stories, this book is about bidding farewell to the everyday items in a room. It is cherished by parents for its gentle rhyme and lulling illustrations. What makes this timeless piece perfect for the bedtime ritual: finding everyday objects or animals in the book. For instance, the mouse keeps moving on every spread; hence, it’s fun for older kids to find where it is.
Age group: 2 to 5 years
Author: Sandra Boynton
This book is a goofy take on animals winding down for bed on a ship. Each of the animal characters is presented in a silly, yet adorable way to appeal to the young readers. And we don’t even need to get started on the hilarious simplicity of the storyline. That’s our pitch to add this book into your child’s nighttime routine.
Age group: Above 3 years
Author: Katie Daynes
If you have a kid who asks you why they need to sleep or if they can sleep on the couch for the night, this book is your answer. It gives information ranging from siestas to the sleep patterns of sea otters. While this is not a bedtime story, the illustrations are calming and it nudges your child to complete the rest of their routine right before settling into the bed.
One More Does Matter, Lana by David Howlett
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
While these books may get your little one excited enough for bed, the key to a successful bedtime routine is consistency. Dim the lights, get your kid cosy and comfortable, and wind them down with a calming activity. Your child will soon be on their way to dreamland, snores included.