One parent says, "As our daughter gets older, we plan to incorporate more time into the routine for reading. Remember though that you won't want to implement too elaborate a ritual, or you may very well find yourself taking an unreasonable amount of time to prepare your child for bed!"
Make your child's bedroom as cozy and soothing as possible. Install a dimmer switch on the overhead light and get a sound machine or a white noise machine to help drown out any background noise.
Although warm and cozy bedding and stuffed animals are nice too, just make sure any objects placed in your child's bed are safe for sleeping. Avoid heavy pillows and big stuffed animals, since these can be a suffocation hazard, and keep battery-operated toys away as well, since leaking batteries are toxic.
One of our readers says, "We gave our daughter an old department store card to keep under her pillow and told her if she needed something after she was in bed, she could use her bedtime pass and come out just once. This has worked like a charm! She takes it very seriously."
The amount and type of wind-down time your child will need depends on his age and temperament. Learn to recognize signs that your child is tired — this will help prevent him from becoming over stimulated.
The NSF suggests looking for cues during the day that your child is well-rested. For example, is she alert and able to concentrate? Does she wake up naturally in the morning, or do you have to drag her out of bed? Using these indications as a guideline will help determine if your child is getting enough sleep and whether or not you need to adjust her bedtime and/or nap schedule.