Did you know that implementing a bedtime routine for your child can offer great benefits? Bedtime routines can offer a safe, secure and happy place for your child. When you implement a predictable and consistent bedtime ritual each night, it will help your child wind down and sleep quality will improve.
A predictable series of steps such as offering a feed (nutrition), bath and/or brushing your child’s teeth (hygiene), offering a massage (physical contact), reading a book (communication) and putting on their sleep sack, swaddle or PJs, turning on white noise and shutting off the light is a great routine.
Several studies have shown that a bedtime routine has benefits beyond improved sleep and is associated with improved language development, literacy, child emotional and behavioral regulation, and parent-child attachment, etc. Children who have a regular bedtime get better quality sleep, fall asleep faster and have fewer night waking’s than children that do not.
Here are a few tips to help make bedtime easier for you and your child:
- Consistency - Try your best to follow the steps in your child’s bedtime routine in order each and every night. For example, bath, massage, book, feed, prayers. If your child knows that their bedtime ritual is going to be the same every day, it can provide a lot of reassurance and security for them.
- Timing - Put your child to bed at an appropriate time to ensure that they are not overtired. Timing of bedtime can greatly impact your child’s sleeping patterns. A sign that your child is overtired is when they fight sleep, they are unable to settle or wind down, and they wake often in the middle of the night. If this is the case, try shifting bedtime earlier to see if it makes a difference.
- Sleep Environment – Keep the room dark and implement a white noise machine that will stay on the entire night. If you have any nightlights in your child’s room, I would remove them as it can prevent your child from falling asleep when they wake. This will help create an environment for your child that is conducive to sleep.
- Security Object – Once your baby is 12 months and older, a security object can be introduced to them such as a blanket, stuffed animal, or lovey, etc. These items can help your child feel secure at bedtime and throughout the night.
- Offer Choices – At this age, you know your child wants to be in control and it can help offering them choices. For example, “what book would you like to read?”, “would you like me to pick out your pyjamas or would you like to choose?” etc. This can help give them a sense of control.
- Timer – I find this works great. Set a timer leading up to bedtime to help your child understand that they have a certain amount of time to play before going to sleep. This can work well during their bedtime routine as well, especially if they use delay tactics to prolong bedtime. You can set your timer for a certain amount of time and once the timer goes off, you can communicate to your child that time is over and it’s time to sleep.
- Stick to Rules – Be flexible and give them options, however, you want to stick to your rules and set boundaries. It is easy to give in and start new habits, but if they know that you will give in to ALL their requests, it can be tough to get back on track when you want to break habits.
There is no one way of creating a bedtime routine for your child, but if you incorporate some of the tips above, you are bound to see in an improvement.