21 August 2008

Record yourself telling stories to calm bedtime fears

We've published a variant of this hack before, but I thought Sara's take was worth sharing as it has helped her calm her daughter's bedtime fears:

I know I was one of the lucky ones. After a colicky start, I was blessed with an easy-to-put-to-bed toddler; however, inexplicably at 20 months or so she started panicking at bedtime. There was no rocking her or rubbing her back that would allow a deep enough sleep that she wouldn't hear us leaving her room at night.

After various failed efforts (not using the AC in the middle of summer, using a nightlight, letting her cry, and telling her firmly to "go to bed, go to sleep") I was at the end of my rope. No web site seemed to help either because most sleep tips were for newborns or three and up. My mom found The Floppy Sleep Game Book by Patti Teel - a book about relaxation techniques for little ones to help them learn to sleep on their own, but it was geared at a level too high for my baby. However, she had a great recommendation - parents could either read the exercises to their kiddos and/or make a CD of them reading to help the kiddos not feel so alone.

Well duh, of course this simple but brilliant idea was the key to great bedtimes! I figured out how to record myself reading various favorite stories on a CD (of course if we still had blank tapes around the house that would have worked too) along with a track that has a relaxation technique involving saying night-night to my daughter's body one part at a time. Now we just listen to the first track, I tuck her in and tell her goodnight and to listen to her stories from mommy on the radio, and no more tears. That is, until she hits some other developmental milestone and we have to figure something else out :)

Our bedtime fears started in preschool. We thought we were home free with our second child -- she was always easy to put to sleep as a baby and a toddler, but when she turned 3, it all changed. She's now 5, and she still has trouble getting to sleep and wakes in the night. Sleep really does wax and wane during the early years.

By the way, you can also use your CD in the car for road trips -- nice way to quiet everyone down for a spell.

Related: Make your own white noise CD

Your comments

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I've recorded many of the stories I've written for just this reason. I can't stand my recorded voice, but I know my children aren't judging.

This is also great to do with grandparents! When we were kids, my mom made up melodies to go with one of our favorite poem books she used to read/sing to us at bedtime. A few years ago my brother helped her make a recording of her singing the songs/poems she used to when we were kids. Now my kids get to listen to them at bed time too. (And I have a lasting momento of my childhood)

My dad did this for us when I was little. He was often gone for weeks at a time working and this really helped us fall asleep as well as not miss him so much.

We've had the idea for a couple of years of recording friends and family reading the books that they give to Ranger.

Unfortunately, we haven't got around to it (yet!), but I sure hope to.

I think it would be nice to play them for him as he falls asleep.

After just borrowing an "audio book on cd" from the library (Stuart Little by E.B. White), I thought we should listen to it in the car on the way home. My daughter LOVED this and it was much better than the garbage on our radio stations where I live. Since my husband has a nifty recording device that allows you to record cd-quality sound and transfer it to a disk, I think I will record myself reading her favorite books for long car trips, airplane rides, etc. - so much easier than hauling all of her favorite books with us on our cross-country airplane ride to Grandma's house!!!

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