What do bedtime routines do?
Bedtime routines aren’t just something that we have to do as we get ready for bed each evening, but they serve many purposes.
Bedtime routines are calming
We all need time to wind down before going to sleep, and bedtime routines give our children this opportunity. These routines help our bodies get ready for sleep. Doing the same things in the same order each night lets our bodies know that sleep is coming. Also, completing the bedtime routine in dim lighting supports melatonin production, which supports sleep.
They are a time for connection
Bedtime routines are a great time to connect with your child, especially if they are in childcare during the day. The bedtime routine is a perfect time for one on one time with your child. You give them your full attention without distractions that can come up during the day. This is true too if you have more than one child; even if you are doing the bedtime routine altogether, it is still a special bonding time you have with your children. Bedtime is a time of separation, so taking that time before bed to really connect with your child can help ease separation anxiety that may be coming up.
Bedtime routines provide predictability
Children generally thrive off of routines and predictability. When we have a consistent bedtime routine, we know what to expect. At the end of the day, when we are all tired, it’s especially helpful to have a routine in place so you don’t have to make any extra decisions, and so your children know what is coming next. Having a set routine can also help limit debates at bedtime. For example, arguing over how many books to read or wanting to add in something else. When you have a regular bedtime routine, you have the routine to fall back on and stick to.
There are other benefits of consistent bedtime routines too
When you have a set bedtime routine, it can help make it easier so anyone can put your child to bed. For example, you can easily write the steps out for a babysitter, so they know just what to do. That lets you assure your child that whoever is putting them to bed knows the routine, and having that routine when you aren’t there can be comforting for many children.
This is also true for when you are away from home, such as if you are traveling. It can sometimes be difficult to sleep in a new place, but when you have your familiar routine, you are able to have comfort from that wherever you are.
What to do for your child’s bedtime routine
Sample bedtime routine for infants
- Feeding, diaper change, putting on pajamas and sleep sack, turning on white noise, reading a story, turning lights out, snuggles and songs, then placing your baby in their bassinet or crib.
- With infants, bedtime routines generally take about 20-30 minutes.
Sample bedtime routine for toddlers
- Use the potty, brush teeth, pick out and put on pajamas, read books, turn the lights out, sing songs, get tucked into bed.
- With toddlers, you can expect the bedtime routine to take a little longer, about thirty minutes or so, as they can be more involved in the routine. Toddlers are exploring their independence, so giving them jobs and choices throughout the routine supports their development and can also help get them engaged and reduce their frustration or resistance to getting ready for bed.
If you are just starting with a bedtime routine, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s okay if it takes some time to figure out a bedtime routine that is right for you. If your routine is different from what's discussed here, shorter or longer in length, but it is working for you, then I would say that is okay, and you don’t need to change it.
If you need help setting up and implementing a bedtime routine that works for you and your family, this is something a sleep consultant can help with! Slumberpod has a resource directory with links to many different sleep consultants, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one if you could use support.
Nicole is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and the owner of Delightful Dreamers, LLC, where she supports families with children from birth through age 5 with getting better sleep. Before starting her business, Nicole worked in Early Intervention for ten years, and she is also a certified lactation counselor. Nicole takes a holistic approach to her work in supporting better sleep.
If you would like to learn more about Nicole and Delightful Dreamers, LLC, you can visit www.delightfuldreamers.com or schedule your free discovery call here! You can also find her on social media on Instagram and Facebook.
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod Pet (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.