Bedtime routines play such an important role in your family getting a good night's sleep. For kids, a calming and consistent bedtime routine can help settle them down for sleep, cue the release of melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone), and even help keep your toddler in his bed instead of yours during the night. While bedtime routines will be different with each child, the goal is always the same – making sure our little one is rested, relaxed, and ready for sleep. Studies show that when our kids have a more consistent bedtime routine, they fall asleep easier, sleep better throughout the night, and even display better behaviour throughout the day.
It’s simple really: A good night’s sleep starts at bedtime.
But life gets busy. Often, our days turn into a blur and life’s distractions mean fewer times to connect and bond with our families. Bedtime for our kids turns into more of a finish line with parents everywhere making a mad dash. But what if I told you that instead, it could be the part of your day where you can slow down and build that necessary attachment with your child? What if I told you this could be done while also promoting comfortable sleep for your entire family? It's all true!
Even though some nights I just need to punch my “mom time clock” and be done for the day, bedtime is an important time in my home and it’s a consistent routine that I started when my kids were just babies. I bring our bedtime routine back to the basics: communication, touch, and simply being present in the moment. Including bath time in their bedtime routine is a perfect opportunity to practice these steps.
It’s time to bring back bedtime for your family and the great thing about a consistent and calming bedtime routine is that it can be started at any age, even as young as 1 month old.
Well-established sleep habits and healthy sleep help to achieve the best cognitive ability for our kids. Having them be well-rested helps to prepare their brains to learn but also helps to cement in new information, consolidate memories, and promote better attention. Proper sleep also helps to keep our kids safe since sleep loss can impact fine motor skills. An overtired child can have difficulty with even the simplest skills, like crawling, walking, running, and climbing. In addition, children who are tired can be more hyperactive, irritable, and their immune system will have more trouble fighting off illnesses.
There isn’t one correct bedtime routine, but the most important things to remember is that consistency is key when it comes to infants and toddlers. Also remember that you need to give yourself enough time to do the routine without feeling rushed. I like to leave between 30 and 45 minutes to execute a full bedtime routine with my kids, though you can adjust it downwards to suit your family’s needs. A typical bedtime routine with your kids could include the following activities:
And the perfect bedtime routine for your family will always end with sweet sleep.
Remember to also include a short nap time routine before your little one settles down for their naps throughout the day. It will be shorter than your bedtime routine but will also help prepare them for sleep and allow for longer naps. Something you want and your baby needs.
Incorporating a consistent bedtime routine for your baby is going to help set him up for sleep success and promote healthy sleep — a skill that he will have for the rest of his life.