It isn’t unusual for kids to go through a phase where they have difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying asleep. Guided meditations can be very helpful. In addition to helping children fall asleep, they can also help children become calmer in general as well as learn positive coping techniques. These aren’t hypnosis or any sort of dangerous techniques. They’re simply ways to help children relax into sleep.
The sleep guided stories are geared to helping listeners focus their attention on an anchor—usually the breath—and to quiet the mind and help shift the listener away from overactive thoughts by giving their attention to the story component. The track is calm, soothing, slow, and with the long pauses at the end…. your child will nod off if they have not already in the first 5 minutes.
What can you expect to hear in a meditation story?
When a story opens, the narrator walks the listener through a brief body scan exercise to help quiet the mind and relax the body. Throughout the story, the character also scans through her sensations, and the hope is that the listener does the same. As the character in the story travels along her journey, she is fully immersed in the present moment. The thinking is that the listener will experience this immersion along with the sleep story’s character.
The way the scenes in each sleep story are described cultivates a sense of sensory awareness. Mindfulness involves perceiving ordinary moments with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a sense of wonder. One way to experience this is by coming into contact with nature. The idea is to observe the beauty of nature in all its exquisite detail: the colors of a flower, the movements of a bird, the sounds of a river, the smells of a forest. This attentive observation keeps the listener in present moment awareness.
I will say they have very seldom made it through to the end of a story, and it’s very hard for me to stay awake too!
Here are our absolute favorite sleep meditations.
I picked these ones because I think the story is really good in them, the voice over is really calm and soothing and the audio is perfect to fall asleep to.
If these worked wonders on your toddler, go on Youtube and explore the whole category of Toddler Sleep Meditations on there and find if there is a story suited to your child’s interests. My child is interested in space and trains, hence the videos above.
You can also download Sleep Meditation apps onto your phone that is specifically aimed for children.
Download a Sleep meditation App.
Here are some great apps below that are dedicated to putting your child to sleep. Some do meditation, others focus on animated stories and then there are apps with some pretty cool next level white noise apps that comes with some special features.
Sleep Meditations for Kids
If you can’t decide between a story or meditation app, this could be the app for you. Yoga and Montessori teacher Christaine Kerr, founder of Calm for Kids, leads takes your kid through a story meditation with soft music playing in the background. It’s meant for kids ages 12 and below, but you may find yourself falling asleep to the app, too.
Headspace For Kids
Headspace now offers kiddie editions of its popular breathing and visualization exercises. Customized for kids five and under, six-to-eight, and nine-to-12.
Free (iOS) (Android) (Amazon)
Bedtime story-based apps.
There are a ton of YouTube videos that animate all your favorite classical stories. (click here to see them), but here are some apps that you might enjoy.
Designed by Oscar-nominated animator and illustrator Heidi Wittlinger, Nighty Night is a narrated story app about what barnyard animals do when the lights go out. As your kids watch the animals fall asleep in their stalls, they’ll hopefully follow suit. And, just like on a real farm, they’ll also be up with the rooster.
$3.99 (iOS) (Android) (Amazon)
Everyone knows books would be better if music played behind the narration just like the movies. Well, practice your best Don LaFontaine, because this sleep app plays original music and sound effects to go along with select children’s books. Just choose a book in the app and start reading. Its voice recognition software will pick up where you are in the story and start playing tunes. Books on the app include Where the Wild Things Are, Cat in the Hat, and Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.
White Noise based apps.
White noise helps mask other sounds from stirring one’s consciousness awake. There are many white noise apps if a sound machine is not available. These apps make it easy to play steady background noise and prevent distractions while you fall asleep.
Below is a few really cool white noise apps.
With this app, you can custom select from a list of pre-recorded sounds, or upload your own nursery rhymes, songs, and stories. When your baby starts wailing, the sleep app responds by playing your selections. One downside: If they start getting bored listening to the same tracks over and over again, record a follow-up album.
About $2.78 (iOS)
Babies respond well to being shushed. Also, the Baby Shusher doesn’t do its white noise thing in the same passive-aggressive manner that you do. Go and save your breath because the meditation app will go lung-for-lung to match your baby’s volume when they start crying. You can also record your own shushes.
Remember those Pink Floyd laser shows at your local planetarium? If you can, this sleep app will bring back memories. Sleepy Sounds not only lets you play lullabies and soothing nature sounds on a loop, but it also displays an animated mobile to light up your kid’s room. Whether or not the music syncs up with The Wizard of Oz remains to be seen.
Free (iOS) (Android)