Create a Bedtime Routine for Kids
When it comes to sleep, consistency in schedule is incredibly helpful. Getting up around the same time every morning, along with a set bedtime is not only great for adults but especially for children. This is because young children do not get the same signals for sleep that we get as adults.
This is why so many children have tantrums instead of putting themselves down for a rest when they are tired. Which is where a good sleep schedule can avoid all of the drama and get your kids sleep soundly. In this post we will go through not only the steps to creating a bedtime routine for your children, but also tips on maintain a bedtime routine for kids.
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6 Step Process To Creating Your Kids Bedtime Routine:
Pick a Bedtime
For those who are not big planners, this may sound like the beginning middle and end of the bedtime routine planning process.
But it is just the first step. This should not be the time you start getting ready for bed, but the time you are aiming to have your children in bed and falling asleep by.
We will work backwards from there and add on the time it takes to get to bed. Then you will know around what time you should start getting the kids ready.
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Make a Nightly “Must Do Before Bed” List
Make a list of your top 5 things that in an ideal world would get done every evening before bed. For example, some things that might make it onto this list are bath time, brushing teeth, and changing into pajamas.
Of course, we understand that there will always the occasional crazy night when nothing goes to plan and your child falls asleep fully clothed.
But again, we said in an ideal world these things would be accomplished every night.
Your daily schedule can change how you sleep at night. Learn more in our post: How A Daily Schedule Equates To Better Sleep
Create a List of Comfort Activities
This is the list of activities that are less of a necessity and more for comfort and bonding. Singing songs, snuggling in bed, reading a story book, rocking in the chair together. Whatever your family loves to do as quality time spent together before heading off to bed.
As your kids get older this can change into 30 minutes of reading or quiet time. For older children we also suggest setting a time for all electronics like tablets, tv, and smartphones to be put away for the night.
Bedtime stories is a precious time for bonding and getting ready for sleep. Learn more about the benefits on our post Reading To Your Kids Before Bed: Benefits & Top 10 Stories
Create a Time Frame
Portion out approximately how long you think it will take for each activity on your list. We suggest starting by timing how long it takes on average each night to do the items on the “must do list” and then moving on to your comfort activities.
Then add them together and this should give you a good idea of on average about how long the bedtime routine will take you and your kids. Put this time before the desired bedtime and bingo, you now have the time of night you should aim to start getting ready for bed.
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Revise Until Satisfied
You may find that your schedule is not perfect the first go around. This is of course totally normal. Most things take a little bit to get just right.
However, keep in mind that it will take time to adjust to the new bedtime routine. This is especially true if it is very different from how they were used to going to sleep before. So be sure to give your routine a fair chance before making any required changes.
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Once you have settled on what seems to be the bedtime routine that feels best for you and your family. Stick to it! Consistency is key when it comes to a smooth and easy bedtime. Kids and adults alike thrive with consistency.
Our bodies are built to maintain and work on a schedule, it is how our circadian rhythm is set up. Once you are on a bedtime routine for a while, you will find it becomes much easier to stay on track. If you fall off the wagon and stay up late for a few weeks it will be harder and harder to get back on schedule. So stay consistent with your schedule as much as possible.
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Top Tips for Kids Bedtime Routines:
Set A Time to Turn Off Electronics
There are so many electronics surrounding us constantly. Smartphones, tablets, televisions, smart toys, etc. are now being marketed towards kids. They are so stimulating that even as adults it becomes an addiction and it can feel impossible to put down.
This is even harder for kids and they have little to no impulse control. Set a time to put away the electronics. Routines and schedules help to set expectations, which can help limit the amount or severity of tantrums.
Tips for Choosing A Bedtime
Not sure when your kids should be going to sleep? It isn’t surprising there are a lot of differing opinions and advise on suggested bedtimes for kids. While we are about to give you a top tip on a suggested way to find a good bedtime for your kids.
Keep in mind that every child is different, what works for one may not work for another. Feel free to experiment and find what is best for your family. Bella Luna created this chart to help determine prime bedtime and length of sleep from age 0 all the way to teens. This is a great guide if you don’t even know where to start.
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Beware Over Exhaustion
Especially exciting days full of fun activities and be exhausting. So can very busy days full of boring activities, being patient takes a lot of energy out of kids. Keep things like this in mind whenever you have had a long day. There will be day when a longer nap or early bedtime is going to be what is best for your kids.
Do try to avoid over exhaustion at all costs. When kids get past the point of no return, it can lead to a long night of delirious laughter and screaming tantrums. While we love consistency with routines, it is better to get extra rest than try to push through to scheduled bed time.
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Aromatherapy is Fun & Calming:
A bedtime routine and aromatherapy are a match made in heaven.
Scents are a fabulous way to set the mood for any occasion. Nighttime baths with lavender scented soap or a nighttime lotion with a soothing vanilla scent can be a great addition to a nightly routine.
Scents also tie very closely with memories. When you use the same scent every night during bedtime, it can help trigger the circadian rhythm, sending cues to the brain that it is time to be calm and go to sleep.
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Songs & Sounds:
Lullabies are universal, they are calming for children and parents. It is not only wonderful for bonding but also for soothing crying babies and children. Having certain songs to sing or play every night can be a beautiful addition to your bedtime routine.
After you leave the room additional music and sounds can help keep your little one sleeping soundly. We highly recommend the HoMedics Soundspa and the Hatch Sound Machine. Both have great sound options and the Hatch also doubles as a color adjustable night light.
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Invest in Your Kid’s Comfort:
Your kids deserve to sleep as comfortably as you do. Which is why finding the right pajamas, bedding, mattress and so on are important for great sleep.
Wool is great for children who easily overheat during the night. While kids mattresses are often overlooked other than moving from a toddler bed to a “big kid bed”.
There are fabulous affordable mattresses and bedding that can greatly improve your kids comfort in bed. We promise this will make bedtime far easier, and with less interruptions throughout the night. Trust us, if you slept on their mattress every night, you would be asking to sleep in mom and dads bed too.
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Create a Bedtime Routine for Kids – Final Thoughts:
It can be easy to fall into the comparison trap. You read a blog or witness a family and their bedtime routine that they love and you want to replicate it. Try not to fall into this, while it might work for your family it doesn’t have to.
Kids are all different and have different needs. You also have a different lifestyle and schedule than other parents and that is okay. Find what works best for you and your family. It only makes sense that you create a bedtime routine that is tailor made to work for your kids and your life.
Head over to our post How To Get Your Kids Back On A Sleep Schedule for tips on getting your kids back on a sleep schedule.
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*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!