Bed Time Routine Basics

If you have kids, you know the bedtime struggle is real. If time-consuming, drama-filled bedtimes are a norm in your house, consider making just a few simple changes to your child’s bedtime routine to bring some much-needed peace and order to your family’s evenings.

Starting a routine when your child is young is the best way to minimize bedtime disasters; however, it is never too late to implement a new routine in your household. Most babies need 16 -18 hours of sleep each day while most children need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep to be rested and functioning at their highest potential the next day. To move to a battle-free bedtime and ensure your child gets plenty of sleep, try these suggestions to make a peaceful bedtime a reality. 

  1. Don't Wait

    Looking for cues from your child that she is tired may end up leaving you feeling exhausted. If you wait too long, until a child is overtired, it can actually take longer to fall asleep. Moving your child’s bedtime up by 30 minutes is often enough of a change to get her to bed before she is exhausted, giving her a more restful sleep with less waking. Whatever time you determine will be bedtime, begin getting ready about an hour prior to this to ensure she is in bed on time. 

  2. Take A Dip

    This classic end of the day unwind is just what many kids need to get ready for bed and relax. However, there is no need for you to pull out all the bells and whistles and treat your child to a spa treatment or long soak to get her on track for bedtime. A 10- to 15-minute bath is all that is needed to begin the process of calming down. If she likes to play in the bath, that’s fine. The warm water can be soothing nonetheless, and once she recognizes that this activity is followed by bedtime, she will naturally associate the two and begin to relax on her own as you continue to follow the routine. 

  3. Be Consistent

    You may feel more lenient about late nights on weekends, holidays and vacations. However, too many late nights and switching of the schedule can contribute to overall sleeping and even behavioral problems. A late night here and there is not going to have any lasting effects, but it is important to try and maintain consistency even as the summer days become longer. 

  4. Just Relax

    Giving your child a chance to chill out and process the day before bedtime can help calm and relax her. Winding down together can help to build closeness, and teaches healthy sleeping habits. Reading is a great way to wind down at night, as are talking about your day, playing a simple game or singing a few lullabies. Whatever works for you is fine, but just make sure you maintain consistency and that it is a relaxing activity. Once you have found a wind-down time activity that work for your child, make it a regular part of the routine. 

  5. Take Comfort

    You may discover that young children with active imaginations find going to bed alone a scary prospect. Giving her a stuffed animal or other comforting item can help ease the transition and provide some familiarity you when you are not there. Establishing some sort of dialogue with your child that this particular stuffed animal will help to keep her safe when the lights go out can help her get to sleep, feel safe and even stay in bed should she wake in the night. 

  6. Sleep Space

    Creating a space that is conducive to sleep is an big part of the bedtime routine. Lowering blinds, dimming lights, starting a noise machine or putting on a playlist of low-key music not only create an atmosphere that is sleep-friendly but the act of doing these things routinely can trigger your little one’s sleepiness. As children get older and electronic devices come into the picture, remember that their should be free of distractions that disrupt sleep. iPads, televisions and other electronic devices should not be in the bedroom. 

Include some of these tips in your bedtime routine tonight, and with a little luck and patience, they can turn your nights from chaotic to restful in no time.