Kids need a consistent bedtime routine whether they are newborns or teenagers. Bedtime routines consist of all of the things that you and your kid do to get them ready for bed. Putting on pyjamas, brushing teeth and turning down the lights are a few of the most common things that people do. You can also add a few fun rituals to the routine such as singing a special song or reading a story that helps your child relax. Setting up a routine takes a little work, but the effort is worth it when you check in on your kid and see them fast asleep within minutes.
Incorporate Lifelong Healthy Habits
Healthy habits are easier to maintain when they are established during childhood, and this is your chance to drill them in. Make sure to include your kid’s oral hygiene routine in their ritual. You might also include a bath in the evening if it doesn’t wake them up too much. Some families are also starting a screen-free hour to help kids disconnect from their electronic devices.
Give Them Age-Appropriate Options
Those bedtime battles can interfere with your efforts to set up a good routine. One way to combat this is to give your kid choices. For example, you might set out two sets of pajamas and let your kid pick which one they want to wear. Or, you might allow them to select the story that they want to read together. Either way, they’ll feel more in control at bedtime, which makes tantrums much less likely.
Set Up a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Kids are much like adults regarding the need for a cozy bedroom. Make sure to find them a good mattress that helps them sleep through the night. Even small children need good back support to prevent waking up in the middle of the night. You may also want to add room darkening curtains if your kid’s bedroom has street or car lights that shine into during the night. Once the room is set up perfectly, offer your child a security object such as a blanket or stuffed animal that helps them self-soothe if they wake up in the night.
Avoid Overstimulating Activities
You may love this special time that you get to spend with your kid, but you don’t want to overdo it. Singing a song too loud, dancing around the room or playing video games shortly before your kid goes to bed could have the effect of hyping them up. If you want to engage in stimulating activities, then try to avoid doing them within an hour of your kid’s bedtime.
Keep It Short and Simple
On average, your kid’s bedtime routine should last less than half an hour. If you go any longer than that, then you kid might attempt to do things to drag it out more. You also want to keep things simple enough that your kid can follow the plan. Try to resist going back to your kid’s room to give them one last drink of water or rub their back. Instead, give them a loving hug before you leave the room, and let them fall asleep at their regular bedtime.
Strive for Consistency
Repetition is critical for making habits stick, and kids will pick up on your weakness if you give in even just one time to their demands to skip the routine. You may also find it harder to follow the routine when you travel, but it is possible to at least maintain some of the essential elements. Try to do everything the same to the fullest extent possible every night, and your kid will begin to follow the routine faster. You might even find that they remind you if you forget a step. If you start doing this while your kid is young, then they’ll be able to do their routine independently as they get older.
Your kid’s sleep needs will change as they age. Make sure to revisit their sleep routine and current bedroom set up each year to make sure that it is still working. If not, then make a few age-appropriate changes, and you’ll see your kid benefit from better sleep.