For Infants, toddlers, kindergartners, or preteens, a good bedtime routine can be the difference between good sleep habits and sleepless nights. Getting quality sleep is essential, and one of the easiest ways to set your child up for a good rest is by creating a bedtime routine.
A good bedtime routine can help soothe and calm your child, so your child is ready for sleep. It also helps your child develop good sleep habits now and in the future.
What Is a Bedtime Routine, and What Are the Benefits?
According to Sleep Foundation, bedtime routines are consistent, repetitive activities carried out every night. They can help prepare your child for sleep by having them relax and wind down. Predictable routines can give your child a sense of security and teach them how to fall asleep independently.
A bedtime routine includes everything you do with your baby or child before you put them to bed, such as taking a bath, changing the last diaper, putting on pajamas, and reading a bedtime story.
The goal of a good bedtime routine is for your child to fall asleep on their own, without being rocked, watching TV, or having you lay down next to them. This way, if they do wake up later, they should be able to fall back asleep without needing extra help.
Certain activities are counterproductive to sleep and may cause your child to form unhealthy habits. Every child is different; you may find it takes trial and error to see what works best. However, take note of these tips when creating your child’s routine:
- Be consistent. Do it every day.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Listen to your child.
- Make gradual changes.
- Follow sleep hygiene rules.
Sometimes, deviations from the norm can’t be helped – a vacation, perhaps, or a bout of the flu. How your child handles change depends on her temperament. But you can make it easier on kids by trying to make new situations familiar; take toys from home on a trip, for example, and keep mealtimes and bedtime the same.
It is important to respect routines, especially if your child has a special meaning. Always make your child know that life is still excellent and safe even if routines are altered.