Having a bedtime routine is key to getting your kids to sleep consistently. Routines help kids know what to expect. This gives them a sense of security and comfort. We are going to look into how you can curate a nighttime routine for your little one and give some tips and tricks along the way.
6 steps to creating a bedtime routine:
Pick a Bedtime
Try to do this step first, find the optimal time your child should be going to sleep by in order to wake up with the correct amount of sleep they need. Then you can dictate a time frame for when you should start your routine after that.
List the Necessities
These are the “must do” activities before you go to bed. Some examples of these are to take medications, bath time, brush teeth, and put on pajamas.
Select a Couple Extra Activities
This is where a lot of customization will come in for each child and parents depending on their specific needs and preferences. Some examples of these activities could be, electronic free play time, glass of water or milk, bedtime stories, singing lullabies etc.
Read our guide on Reading Before Bed and why it is great to incorporate this activity into your child’s nightly routine.
Select the Order
Figure out which order works best for your child to transition from one activity to the next. We suggest finding an order you like first and try it out for a while. Change can be very disruptive and can take some time to adjust, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work perfectly night one or night even night ten. Which leads to our next step.
Stick with it
Once you find a routine you really like, stick with it. It really does take time to adjust to a new routine. If you are seriously struggling establishing a new bedtime routine, try changing one aspect of your routine at a time.
As an example, if you want to take electronics out of bedtime habits, start with only changing that part of your routine until your little one fully adjusts. Then try changing the next step. This may helpful if you’re trying to change a lot of aspects of your nighttime routine all at once.
Revise as Necessary
As your child gets older, their bedtime needs are going to change. Make sure to change as necessary. If one activity works for a while but your child soon bores of that activity, try something new. However, do this as little as possible. Remember that consistency is key to creating a healthy bedtime routine.
General Bedtime Routine Tips
How to pick a Bedtime:
Choosing a bedtime for your kids can be a juggling act, you need time for dinner once you get home from work and then balance enough time for the rest of your nightly routine before you eventually get your kids into bed. However, there are certain times of night that are going to be better for your kids to get to sleep faster and stay asleep.
Maintaining a scheduled bedtime is helpful for setting the internal clock for your kids. This will take time to get into the rhythm but once it becomes a habit, it will be incredibly helpful in the future. Bella Luna created this chart to help determine prime bedtime and length of sleep from age 0 all the way to teens.
Getting the right amount of light in your kids room just right is going to be important. During the warmer months the sun may still be during or around the time you are trying to get your kids to bed. Thicker or black out curtains will be helpful to set the mood for getting to sleep.
You also don’t want it to be too dark for those who have kids who are scared of the dark. Nightlights are great for fixing this problem. There are loads of nightlight options out there. We suggest finding a light that uses warmer toned light. The warmer color simulates the sun setting and is less disruptive to sleeping. While cooler light is similar to the sun rising and can trigger the body to believe it is time to wake up the body.
Songs & Sounds:
Anywhere you go through space and time, there are lullabies being sung to little ones to lull little ones to sleep. The relaxing melodies are a great way to soothe and relax your kids. Having certain songs to sing or play every night can also be a routine.
After falling asleep using sound machines is a new tool that many parents are beginning to use in order to keep their kids asleep. These machines help to drown out any noises outside of the room and range from white noise to soothing ocean sounds and so much more.
If you have multiple children or if you are staying up to do dishes or hang with your spouse these noise machines will help to keep these distracting noises from waking up your sleeping child. Some options that we really enjoyed are the HoMedics Soundspa and the Hatch Sound Machine. Both have great sound options and the Hatch also doubles as a color adjustable night light.
Bye Bye Tablet:
Electronics are not conducive to good sleep, for children or adults. The lights and sounds are stimulating and will keep your mind awake long past when your body is ready to sleep. If you little one is struggling to get to bed earlier, turning off TVs, smartphones, tablets, and all other devices that might be keeping your little one awake at least an hour before your desired bedtime.
We know that turning off electronics can be much easier said than done. In time, making it a part of your routine will help ease tensions, in the meantime distractions will be your best friend. Playing with sound & light free toys like blocks, puzzles, or stuffed animals. Also moving to bath time and bath toys is a good time to transition off of electronics.
Bath Time Tips:
Kids get dirty, and bath time is inevitable. It can also be a fun part of your nightly routine. Toys are a great way to make bath time an enjoyable occasion. We suggest staying away from light up or loud toys during your bath and night time.
Lowering lights and using calming scents can also help set the tone for sleep. Gentle lavender, chamomile, and vanilla oat scents are all great options. Soaps, candles, and essential oils can be used to create these scents but also lightly scented bath bombs are an exciting way to add scent, color, and excitement to bath time routines. We love Ickle Baby Bot from Lush Cosmetics.
Want know more of our favorite nighttime baby products? Check out Our Baby Sleep Guide.
Keep Things Comfortable:
When it comes to a great nights sleep comfort is key, check out our reviews for crib and children’s mattresses. Just like adults, the right bed will be helpful for both getting to sleep and staying sleep.
Items like favorite blankets, stuffed animals, and other toys are so helpful for calming your child down and giving them a sense of security.
Weighted blanket are a new trend but they have been around for a while. Be sure to get the right weight for your child. The heft of a weighted blanket helps to ease tension and anxiety, which calms your child down. These blankets create a similar affect that swaddling gives newborns.
If you little one is still in diapers we highly suggest the 12 hour night diapers. These are extremely helpful with keeping your little one to not get woken up by an uncomfortable wet diaper.
The Dreaded “Second Wind”:
As a parents you may have experienced this before. You are out to dinner late, trying to get home as soon as you can, your child is exhausted and ready for sleep, then they get their second wind. No longer tired and now full of giggly wild energy with no hope of bedtime coming anytime soon. This second wind occurs when you have gone outside of routine and passed their sleep window.
When your child stays up long enough past their typical bedtime, their body begins to release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This causes a rush of energy. Don’t panic, another sleep window will come but you might have to be patient as your little one gets through their second wave of energy. This is another reason why finding the right time for bedtime and sticking to a routine can be very helpful.
Consistency is key:
When creating a new bedtime routine or even when making small adjustments to a set routine, there is going to be resistance. This is because it is not what they are used to it and kids crave consistency. This is also the very reason a solid bedtime routine is so important.
Once you find what works best, stick to it. Keep going even through the tough nights. Eventually your little one will begin to adjust to the new routine and know what to expect and what is expected of them. The more consistent you are with the new routine the less adjustment time it will take.
Do what works:
As if you haven’t already heard it a million times before, we will say it again. Every child is different. What works for one kid won’t work for the next. So find what works best for your child and they try to stick with it as best as you can.
Sometimes you feel like you’ve tried all of the normal stuff and none of it seems to work for your kid. Don’t be afraid to explore nontraditional options. We have seen bedtime kids yoga, massage techniques, even rock and roll lullabies.
*Please note, all the above mentioned content and product reference is based on opinion and personal experience. If you have any questions about the safety or the use of these products for your own child, that is at your own discretion.
Have questions about what products to use? Contact us and let us know!