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Bedtime Routines for Children

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Bedtime Routines for Children

Getting quality sleep is essential in childhood, yet research shows that as many as 20 to 30% of babies and toddlers have trouble sleeping. If you’re the parent or caregiver of a young insomniac, you’ll know firsthand how frustrating it is to see your little one struggle with bedtime.

One of the easiest ways to set your child up for good sleep is by creating a bedtime routine. The good news is that it only takes a few nights of following a bedtime routine to see improvements in your child’s sleep.

What is a bedtime routine and what are the benefits?

Bedtime routines are a consistent, repetitive set of activities that are carried out before bed every night. They help prepare your child for sleep by having them relax and wind down. A predictable routine also gives your child a sense of security and teaches them how to fall asleep on their own.

Research shows that children who follow bedtime routines are more likely to go to sleep earlier, take less time falling asleep, sleep longer, and wake up less during the night. These benefits to sleep quality are still seen years later in children who followed bedtime routines when they were younger.

In addition to improving sleep, bedtime routines teach your child self-care and lay the ground for working memory, attention, and other cognitive skills. They also foster parent-child bonding and may help improve mood, stress levels, and behavior.

In the long term, these benefits translate to better readiness for school, as well as better academic performance and social skills. By contrast, those who don’t follow a bedtime routine in childhood are more likely to have sleep problems and be overweight during adolescence.

Setting a bedtime routine right from the beginning with your baby makes it easier to keep up healthy habits as your child grows.

How to build a bedtime routine for kids

A bedtime routine for kids usually consists of three or four activities, for example, having a snack, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading a book. These should always be done in the same order. To make the routine even more effective, start winding down the household by dimming the lights and turning off screens in the lead-up to bed.

Typical bedtime activities that have been shown to have beneficial effects on sleep include:

  • Nutritious snack or bottle/breastfeeding

  • Bath or diaper change

  • Brushing teeth and going to the bathroom

  • Reading a book

  • Lullaby or singing a song together

  • Massage, cuddling, and rocking

  • Talking about their day

The bedtime routine should culminate in a goodnight kiss and lights-out. You should leave the room while your child is sleepy but not asleep yet. This way they learn to fall asleep on their own, and they won’t panic if they wake up in the middle of the night and find you gone. Set a consistent bedtime that leaves enough time for your child to sleep the recommended amount of hours for their age.

Campbell County Health Pediatrics and Kid Clinic are here to help you keep your children healthy and happy. If you have questions regarding your child’s sleep routine, we are here to assist!

Kid Clinic: 307.688.8700

Pediatrics: 307.688.3636