Doctor's Orders: Quality Sleep Begins with an Awesome Bedtime Routine

Little ones thrive on consistency and patterns, so give it to them

Doctor's Orders: Quality Sleep Begins with an Awesome Bedtime Routine | YMCKids |

A typical day in my office includes counseling parents about sleep training and sleep hygiene for their little ones. At least 30 times a day. Every day. There are some typical dogmas I advise, such as putting baby down awake and allowing her to self soothe (only do this after 4 months of age), avoiding having your baby be awake for longer than 90-minutes, as this can lead to an overtired state, and developing an awesome sleep routine early on — and sticking with it.

I cannot stress how important a consistent sleep routine is for your baby and little ones. Your kids thrive on consistency and patterns. Like most of us, they want to anticipate what is about to come, and knowing what's next, this helps direct them on how to behave. For example, my boys consistently go to bed at 7pm every night. By 6:45, they're itching to get into bed. In fact, we don’t even need to wear watches, we can tell when bedtime is approaching — it's when they start to get antsy, impatient, and irritable.

Since my eldest was 2-months old, we've had the same routine. Bath time signals the start of our bedtime routine, though, we're not the ‘bathe every night’ kind of family for a couple reasons. For one, my kids have sensitive skin and frequent bathing isn't great for that. Secondly, we just don’t have the time (I know many of you can relate). Between after school activities, work, and homework, we simply can’t fit daily baths into our schedule. So every other night it is, unless they're particularly filthy. On a no bath night, our routine starts with brushing teeth.

There is something about a warm bath, with a soothing scent that lulls kids off to sleep. Even as adults, we love that too, right? During bath time, my kids are currently enjoying Cetaphil Baby products. As a family, we're not big on scented products, so this line is perfect for us as it has only a light scent from calendula (a natural plant extract that's great for dry skin). Cetaphil Baby is actually one of few skin care product my kids haven’t had a reaction to.

Doctor's Orders: Quality Sleep Begins with an Awesome Bedtime Routine | YMCKids |

After the bath, we dry them off and moisturize. The older two get lotion, while the baby loves a massage with the Cetaphil Baby Moisturizing Oil. Teeth are then brushed, pajamas go on, and we all pile into one of the kids' beds for a story. After that, each kid goes off to his own room for quiet time with one, or both parents.

This collective family time/bedtime routine is so important to develop family memories because what the kids will remember is the one-on-one time with us. We try (though, some days this proves difficult) to slow down, and spend a few undivided minutes with each kid. Some days, I sing to one and some days we chat about what happened during our days. Some days I play with the little one’s hair as he falls asleep. They love it. I love it.

Most importantly, my kids know what to expect, and don’t fight us on bedtime because of our consistent routine. Usually our routine goes off without a hitch and then comes the best part: quiet time, a glass of wine (or tea), and my laptop.

Dina Kulik is a wife, mother, paediatrician and emergency medicine doctor. She lives in Toronto, Ontario and is surrounded by testosterone with a husband, three sons (age 4 and 2 and 0) and two male dogs (age 3 and 1!). 

She is a spin fanatic and adrenaline junky, needing constant stimulation to keep from getting bored (maybe that’s where the kids get it from?). Organized chaos is how she thrives. Sound familiar mommies?

Dina is eager to share practical and fun kids knowledge. Check out her blog at She is hoping to get the conversation going on all things related to children’s health. From breastfeeding challenges, to solid food introduction to managing night terrors, Dina has been through it all, personally and professionally. Raising healthy, adaptable children is a challenge. No one does perfectly and no one comes out unscathed. Survival is the goal most days! Let’s chat and make it just a little bit easier with tips and tricks for parenting.

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