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Parent Blog

Keeping your child on a consistent sleep schedule is a necessary challenge to tackle for your child’s health and your own. The rituals you include to help your child wind down can also provide an opportunity for great bonding. One day, your child might sing the same lullabies to their child or fondly remember the giggles you shared as you played with stuffed animals each night.

 

How to establish a bedtime routine

  • Select a bedtime that allows your child the recommended amount of sleep for their age.
  • Keep the bedtime rituals to about 20-30 minutes. Although, it might take longer if you include a bath in the routine.
  • Be consistent. Even on weekends, try to keep the same routine, the same bedtime, and avoid letting your child sleep in.

What rituals should you include in a bedtime routine?

Every child’s bedtime routine will look a little different. Select a few rituals you think will best fit your child’s needs. Common bedtime rituals include a nutritious snack, a bath, brushing teeth, quiet play time, reading, singing songs, cuddles, or tucking in a stuffed animal.

Learn how to choose the best book for your nighttime routine here.

Tips and troubleshooting

  • Changing bedtime: To adjust the designated bedtime, start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier or later each night until you’ve reached the desired new time.
  • Sleeping independently: Leave the room when your child is nodding off but before they are completely asleep so your child falls asleep on their own.
  • Avoid over-stimulating: Before bedtime, avoid sugary snacks, limit screens, and transition to calm playtime rather than running or shouting.
  • Lower sensory input: A few ways to remove distractions include dimming the lights, using nightlights, using white noise (noise machines, fans, aquariums), and avoiding scratchy blankets or uncomfortable pajamas.

 

Read about the best time to start establishing a bedtime routine in our milestones blogs.


Resources for this article include Sleep Foundation, AOTA, and RaisingChildren.net.au.