Whether you have an infant, toddler, preschooler, or preteen, a good bedtime routine means a good night sleep. Of course, finding a bedtime routine that works for both you and your child can often seem a daunting task. A positive bedtime routine means the difference between unending sleepless nights and limitless restful nights.
The Bedtime Routine
Calm, pleasant bedtime rituals can help you and your child make the transition from wake to sleep every night. Starting early and creating a bedtime routine that works will serve you and your child through the years. A bedtime routine is simply the sequence of events leading up to your child going to bed. No matter when you begin, if you put together a predictable routine, you can follow the same steps each night, so your child knows what to expect. That expectation will help your child be more confident and secure.
The bedtime routine will change as your child grows older, but the sequence of events will remain the same. With a preschooler, you might begin with a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, getting in bed, sharing a song or story, and bedtime. Your routine could be shorter maybe getting on pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a short story, and saying prayers. The length of the routine is not as important as the consistency of the routine. You will need to determine if the routine is short and easy or a longer special time with your little one.
The Goal of Your Bedtime Routine
The goal of your bedtime routine is that your child falls asleep on his or her own, without the need for you to lie down beside him, watch TV with her, or rock him or her to sleep. If your child learns to fall asleep without you, he or she will be able to fall back asleep without your intervention. If not, and your child wakes in the night, you will need to repeat whatever you did to help him or her fall back asleep.
The Bedtime Routine How To
- Start early. The younger your child when you start a good bedtime routine, the better.
- Create a routine that is appropriate for your child’s age. Remember, this routine will evolve as your child grows older.
- Set a time. Set a time that is age appropriate for your child and stick to it. This will allow your child’s internal clock to adjust to the routine.
- Use a security object (blanket or stuffed animal). This is especially helpful for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Be consistent. Though the bedtime may change as your child gets older, the routine itself should remain consistent, from starting point to bedtime in the same order.
- Give a warning. Before bedtime, let your child know it is nearly time for his or her bedtime routine to begin. Consider using a timer to make time visual for a younger child or give the signal that bedtime is coming by helping your child pick up his or her room.
- Offer choices. Though you set the bedtime, let your child have some choice in the ritual, like what pajamas to wear, song to sing or book to read. If you offer a bedtime snack, let your child choose between two healthy options selected by you.
- Use a night light. Most children don’t like the dark and a night light can solve that problem.
- Dental hygiene is necessary. After snack or that final drink, make sure your child brushes his or her teeth.
- Go to the bathroom. Remind your child to go to the bathroom one more time before bed.
- Let your “goodnight” mean goodnight. When you say your final “goodnight” leave the room and don’t return. It is not being harsh, but letting your child know you are serious about bedtime.