Bedtime is a wonderful bonding opportunity with your child. Make your routine predictable, so your child understands nighttime expectations and can take initiative with the routine. Children crave consistency and structure, as it makes them feel secure. Confidence is built when they understand and can fufill expectations. You can print our bedtime success chart, place it in a sheet protector and have your child use a dry erase marker each night to "check off" each step after completion until s/he's comfortable with the routine.
Bedtime may be a struggle more often than not, but it's key to always stick to a consistent routine. Bedtime is an indicator that the busy day is over, and it's time to allow our bodies to calm down and decompress. A consistent bedtime routine teaches your child to self-soothe and relax. The goal is to end the day on a positive, relaxing note and to connect with your child in a soothing, calm manner.
Make sure you're firm with bedtime and set limitations, as your child may want you longer than desired and needed. With consistency, your routine will become more seamless!
Why is a routine important?!
A consistent bedtime routine was associated with better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter sleep onset latency, reduced night wakings, and increased sleep duration. Decreased parent-perceived sleep problems and daytime behavior problems were also related to institution of a regular bedtime routine (Mindell, Li, Sadeh, Kwon, & Goh, 2015).
Use this time to hug, cuddle and cherish your child! When your child understands that s/he will have your 1:1 attention in a quiet environment, s/he will open up and share about his/her day, concerns and all the exciting things happening. Quietly talk and share brief stories. Provide 2-3 book options and have your child choose one for you to read aloud. All children from toddlers to teens enjoy being read to.
Mindell JA, Li AM, Sadeh A, Kwon R, Goh DY. Bedtime routines for young children: a dose-dependent association with sleep outcomes. SLEEP 2015;38(5):717–722.
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