An ideal bedtime routine sets the stage for sleep. It becomes communication to our kids and their bodies that it is time to sleep. Just like us as adults, it is important to slow their bodies down and through a predictable routine prepare their bodies for sleep.
Here is what, how, when and why of a great bedtime routine:
When should you start implementing a Bedtime Routine?
I started bedtime routines with my kids early on in infancy. This has become part of what they know happens every day. It is predictable and therefore comfortable for them. If you haven’t started one yet, it is not too late. You might just find that your child enjoys it and you will find that it will be helpful to their sleep. It is never too early or too late.
Why is the Bedtime Routine important?
The bedtime routine is the first part to setting the stage for a great night’s sleep for your little one. This is one way in how we communicate with our children and their bodies that bedtime is approaching. It can help our little ones to sleep better and create bedtime boundaries with our toddlers and older children. Additionally, they are a special time of day to have one-on-one time with your little one. Check out this study on bedtime routines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the importance of a bedtime routine.
What Makes a Good Bedtime Routine?
You design your bedtime routine in any way you’d like, as long as it is calming and soothing. I suggest keeping it to about 30 minutes in length. It is best if you can do as much as you can of the routine in your child’s room and as much as you can under low soft lighting. Just think about what the low lighting of a spa does for your body! It relaxes you, right?
Here are some things you can include, just as an idea:
Diaper change or potty
Hugs and kisses
How to implement the routine?
If you are starting with a younger baby, just begin to implement a predictable routine – it is as simple as that.
If you are starting with a toddler, it might be a good idea to include some visuals or a chart where your little one can walk through the routine. These make it fun for them too! You can use our free bedtime routine flashcards.
You can also download our bedtime routine door hanger and create your own with your child. If you get them involved in creating it, they will have more “buy in” to the bedtime routine.
Whichever way you choose to go about your bedtime routine, I am sure that you will see that it has a great impact on your child's sleep and it will also become an enjoyable time of day for you and your kids.
Certified Sleep Consultant
Smart Night Sleep
*based in Orlando, FL, but work remotely with families all over the world