Children love structure and knowing what is next. This makes them feel secure and confident. A bedtime routine is an essential part of having a good night’s rest. It sets the stage for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Think about your routine before you go to bed. You might not even realize you have one! Do you run around and then pass out? Then we can’t expect our kids to go to bed quickly without setting the stage. Everyone needs time to unwind and center themselves.
Of course bedtime routines will evolve and change with your child’s age but the basics will stay the same. It is a good idea to start a bedtime routine as early as possible…even with your baby.
6 Step Easy Bedtime Routine for Kids
Begin this routine 30-45 minutes prior to your child’s bedtime if you include a bath.
- Pick up Toys/ Room Starting the routine by picking up toys helps signal to your child that the day is coming to an end. For older children, this might be cleaning up their room.
- Take a Bath Many children look forward to bath time so this is an easy way to transition from playing. Otherwise it can be hard to get your children to stop playing with toys or watching tv.
- Brush Teeth/ PJs Don’t forget how important oral hygiene is! For older children I usually brush for the first 30 seconds and then let the child finish the 2 minutes. One way to add choices to a routine is by letting your child pick out their pjs. I like to have 2-3 pjs laid out that I selected and then let my daughter choose. This helps to make sure the pjs are right for the weather.
- Read a Story/ Sing a Lullaby Children tend to love story time. It is quality time with no distractions. You and your child can benefit from story time. You are developing a stronger bond with them in these moments. Story time can truly be the most important part of the day. School age-children can begin reading to you. This is a great time for them to practice the skills they are learning at school.
- Turn on Soft Music/ White Noise Putting on noise helps prevent sleep disruptions that can come from loud vehicles in the neighborhood, sibling in the same room, closing door cabinets…the list is endless. I have used white noise since my girls were infants. I even use white noise nightly for myself.
- Goodnight Hug/ Kiss Last but not least the hug and kiss. This is the last moment in the day that you have with your child. You want them to feel loved and secure so please try not to rush through this moment. I also add “I LOVE YOU!” My oldest daughter has called me out a couple times if she feels I’m rushing when I give her a hug. She will say, “Mama I want a REAL hug.” This was a serious wakeup call for me to understand how important this was to all my girls. My youngest two also have a security item, lovey, that they have in their cribs. I believe this helps them extend the secure feeling all night. If they wake up in the middle of the night this item helps them go back to sleep.
Bedtime Routines can vary from child to child and even family to family. The most important thing to remember is to find what works for you and your child and be consistent.