Creative Child

6 Simple Tricks to Make Bedtime Less Spooky

by Erin J. Bernard


3. Establish a calming ritual.

This may involve saying prayers, asking for blessings or protection, listening to a quiet CD, or reading a reassuring book. For a sweet and comforting take on soothing nighttime fears, try Cooper Eden’s classic, “If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow,” or Emma Yarlett’s “Orion and the Dark,” both available on A soft nightlight can also do the trick.

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4. Relax the closed-door policy.

Yes, closing the bedroom door ensures that noise and light from other areas of the house won’t creep in after bedtime and allows you to unwind without fear of disturbing your sleeping child. But consenting to leave the door cracked during periods of anxiety can help your child feel connected to you even when you’re in separate rooms, says the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. And that makes him or her more likely to stay put in bed.

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5. Promise regular check-ins.

Don’t stay in your child’s room unless he or she is extremely frightened or upset, suggests the Cleveland Clinic. Instead, provide comfort and reassurance, then tell your child you’ll be checking in at regular intervals, say every five minutes, graduating to every 10 or 15 minutes as he or she settles in. Your child will fall asleep faster knowing that you’re keeping a steady watch.

6. Banish creepy Halloween decorations.

The plastic pumpkins, cotton cobwebs, and black cat cookie jars can stay, but think twice before populating your living room with porcelain witches or recasting the front yard as a spooky zombie cemetery. What’s whimsical in the daytime can transform into something much more threatening after dark, making late-night trips to the bathroom or a parent’s bedroom unnecessarily terrifying.

Put away the scary decorations for a year or two, and reintroduce them when your child is more mature.

Related Article: 5 Healthy Halloween Hacks


Erin J. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer from Portland, Oregon. Before becoming a writer, Erin worked as a nanny and an ESL classroom teacher. She taught English at a Montessori school in Mexico and then ran an after-school language program in South Korea. Erin is the editor of the parenting guide, “Instructions Not Included: A Pediatrician’s Prescription for Raising the Best Kids on the Block,” written by Irwin H. Berkowitz, MD.

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