Age of your kid no bar, Bedtimes for Kids is crucial for a solid routine to be a part of your child’s life. Just so they can keep in tune with the rest of their day. Without ever really feeling that out of sync feeling. Except on rare occasions, of course. Those are only natural.
That said though, creating a bedtime routine that
- Is effective
- And keeps your child from throwing a big mess of tantrum
…is needless to say, quite a task. A herculean task.
However, by following a couple of sleep-expert backed rules, you can have a sleep routine for your kids that makes them want to hit the bed. But first, let us talk about bedtime basics.
What is a bedtime routine?
To define ‘what is a bedtime routine’ is fairly simple. It is just a wind down ritual that helps your kids (or adults) get into bedtime mode so they can sleep well throughout the night. It will consist of a couple or more steps – some universal, some personal. And a set of do’s and don’ts, which as you know we will discuss shortly.
We kind of touched upon the answer to ‘why is a bedtime routine important for a child’ in the introduction briefly. Not only does a solid routine keeps your kids in sync with their internal body clock, it also prevents sleepless nights. And when kids sleep well, they perform better at school. They are in better moods. They have stronger memory retention. And so and so forth. Truly, the benefits are many.
What age to start a bedtime routine is perfect?
Ask any expert ‘what age to start a bedtime routine for my baby’ and they will tell you the sooner, the better. In fact, most of them recommend starting a set bedtime routine between the ages 3 and 6 months so your kids truly get the chance to have a regulated sleep cycle that follows the diurnal schedule.
How to set a good, easy-to-follow bedtime routine for your baby?
Whether your baby is a teen or a toddler, setting an effective bedtime routine for them requires religiously (pardon us for being a tad dramatic) following a set of do’s and don’ts. Okay, maybe not religiously but strictly so your child never faces any trouble in hitting the hay on time.
Here are the do’s and don’ts that perfectly answer ‘how to set a bedtime routine for your baby’, whether they are infants or much older:
- Maintain consistency
- Make brushing a part of the ritual
- Keep bedtime ritual short and simple
- Personalise it as they get older
- Give your child some control
- Make them visit the loo
- Keep bedtime as early possible
- Be prepare for tantrums
- Get them a security blanket
- Keep it dark
Bedtime should be the same every night. Period. It does not matter if it is the weekend or a festival or a public holiday, you should not alter bedtime frequently as that can prevent your child from forming a habit of sleeping on time. By the time the clock strikes bedtime, your child should be tucked in bed, ready to snooze.
Brushing their teeth that is. A good nightly dental hygiene ritual is not only great for your child’s oral health, but it will also help them get into that sleep zone when they do it. It will be like a signal that it is time for bed.
It should not be too long and elaborate as that can delay sleep. A good time routine only involves the basics, i.e. freshening up, brushing teeth and changing into jammies. All of which combined should be about 15 minutes long. So that is a good estimate of how long the bedtime ritual should be.
Your child’s bedtime routine should always, always, always be age-appropriate. We cannot emphasise this enough as the one-size approach just does not work here. So as your child grows older, make sure you keep tweaking certain aspects of the ritual so it makes sense to you and your kid.
A recipe for disaster is implementing a strict regime for a bedtime routine. Expect a lot of resistance for something like that. However, you can make it a pleasant experience by giving your child some control over their bedtime routine. For example, they can choose the book to read. Or pick a nightsuit to wear. Easy stuff.
This rule particularly applies to younger kids. To prevent instances of bedwetting or soiling, you can have your kid visit the loo right before jumping into bed. That ought to keep the sheet clean when your child wakes up.
The goal should be to start your child’s bedtime routine at the earliest time possible rather than the latest time feasible. You do not want to delay this ritual as then your kid will get into the habit of taking it lazily. Not seriously. Thus fudging up their circadian rhythm. So keep it early.
Teeny-tiny ones or big ones, initially your kid will resist having a bedtime routine. So be sure you are all prepped up for it. Instead of scolding them though, soothe them. Let them have a good cry too. They will soon adjust once the change becomes familiar and comforting.
Or a security plushie. Whatever they like that soothes them, calms them and makes them feel safe and secure. Just make sure the item is child-safe. Involving it will definitely make them want to hop into bed eagerly.
A dark room is conducive to sleep. And that is no surprise. That said, do not make it too dark that your kid gets scared. Have a nightlight on so your child feels comfy but is in dark enough space to just want some shut-eye.
- No stimulating activities
- Do not be impatient
- Do not make bedtime negative
- Do not keep it too long
- No caffeine
Actually call it a strict no-no. You see, the problem with stimulating activities is that they are stimulating. Which means they delay bedtime. Which means they dramatically bring down the possibility of establishing a routine. So no games, puzzles, TV, roughhousing etc.
If your child had a bad bedtime routine before you started with this brand new one, do not expect overnight changes. Be patient. It will take some time for your kid to get into the groove of this new routine but they will surely and patiently.
This can happen if you are overly strict or make them too dependent on something to fall asleep. Like say, playing white noise all night. The problem is then that either they would not want to sleep at all. Or they would not be able to sleep until that particular condition is fulfilled.
No need to drag out that bedtime routine. As we said it in the do’s, it should be as short as you can keep it. So do not give into your child’s requests for one more story, two more songs, three more biscuits and the like. Stick to the (snooze) plan.
Older kids might get into the habit of coffee or tea but even younger kids may get hooked to caffeine through sodas, or coffee-flavoured treats. And that, dear parents, is not good. Caffeine delays sleep so you should not allow your kids that before they get ready to hit the sack.
If you are wondering ‘how to make a bedtime routine for toddlers’, the steps would more or less be the same with some toddler-specific tweaks like an earlier bedtime, bottle feeding rules and the like.
Just like bedtime, following a timetable throughout the day is also good for your kids. And you will be pleased to know that at EuroKids, we try our best to implement a great timetable for your preschool kids. So they can get into the rhythm of doing things in time. Oh, and our curriculum is absolutely great! Find out more by visiting us!