Last night, I was putting my son to bed when I discovered something amazing.
After we brushed his teeth and got his jammies on, we sat down with one of his favorite books. As I started to read the book, he put his head on my shoulder and snuggled in. Low and behold, after the book was done he was sleepy eyed, and I was able to put him in his crib with no tears! Amazing!
How did I do it? After much thought, I realized the answer.
A bedtime routine.
Every time I talk to another parent about kids and their sleeping habits, I’m greeted with comment after comment about how their kids don’t want to go bed or wake up several times at night. When parents don’t get enough sleep, no one in the house is happy!
I did a lot of research and experimenting with my son until I was able to find the perfect routine for us.
I am by no means saying that bedtime routines work for everyone, but why not give it a try? The majority of parents I’ve talked to say that bedtime routines are a lifesaver for their kids, especially when they are out of town or have visitors. It helps comfort their kids and get them in the right state of mind for a good nights rest.
I even created a great printable to fill out and hang on the wall! There will no longer be confusion about what to do or when. Stick around if you want to check out the awesome printable I created!
Ok, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty of bedtime routines. There are some rules when you create them (of course!).
1. Be Consistent
The routine needs to be the same night after night. Kids will come to expect things to happen in order, and if you change it up on them the results will not be pretty!
2. No Electronics
Think you can stick them in front of the TV for a half hour and call it good? Unfortunately that won’t work. Kids actually sleep worse and wake up more often when they are exposed to screen time before bed. Also, the light that TVs, Phones, and Tablets give off don’t condone to the right mood, which should be that it’s time to wind down.
3. Make is Feasible
It is not realistic to expect that you can read them 10 books every night, or that they can go for a walk before bed every night [unless you live in a stable climate of course :)]. If you get your kids accustomed to a certain routine and then have to switch it up every few months, they will start to get confused about what is happening. Keep your routine short and sweet.
Ideas for Your Routine
Now that we have the basics covered, you need to decide exactly what your routine will be. I picked 5 items, and I felt like this was a great number for us. Of course, you will need to do whatever works best for your family. Maybe you only have time for 3 activities. Or maybe your child has a hard time winding down and you need to raise the number to 6 or 7. Experiment with it until you get it right.
Here are some ideas:
- Bath (though very young children shouldn’t bathe every day at the risk of getting eczema)
- Drink of water
- Brush teeth
- Stretching or Yoga
- Put on pajamas
- Talk about the day or the plans for tomorrow (this doesn’t work if your kids get excited too easy)
- Favorite stuffed animal or blanket (be sure to not add anything to a babies crib before the age of 1)
There are a lot of options to mix the bedtime routine up until you find what works for you and your child. To get an idea, here is my son’s routine.
(I’ve also included the specific items we use for our routine. Yes, these are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission. I decided to include them because parents always ask me what my favorites are. I can confidently say that both my son and I love these products!)
- Brush teeth
- Read 2 books >> check out my two favorite books! Goodnight Moon & Oh, David
- Talk quietly about what is happening the next day >> the comfiest chair ever!
- We snuggle and rock while we listen to the first 2 songs on his lullaby CD
Now that you have an idea of how to create your child’s bedtime routine, the next step is to grab the printable below so you can write it down! It’s best to have it hung up somewhere so your child can reference it when they start to resist the routine. Just ask them what is next on their list and they will be eager to go check!
Do you have a bedtime routine for your child? Does it help them go to sleep at night?