There are a few daily routines that unite us all as parents. Those times of the day we all face include bathtimes, mealtimes and bedtime routines. While it may go well for some on most days, others barely struggle through. Here are a few of my tips to help settle the bedtime routines:

  • Same time, same order, same place every night – It can be helpful to children to have a strong sense of routine around bedtimes. If the process is consistent, over time it can help children settle and be more ready for sleep by the end. In our house, it has been bath, jammies, brush teeth, story and then bed for years. At bath, they know sleep is about an hour away. At story, they know it is 10 minutes away.
  • Minimum 20 minutes, maximum an hour – If bedtime routines are shorter, children may not have enough time to transition. Longer, and they may lose focus.
  • Finish in their rooms – Avoid finishing the routine in the living room or your room and then carting them off to bed. It’s better for children to have time to acclimate to their bedroom. Their bedroom should be part of their sleep association.
  • If sleep issues, avoid TV and rough house play in the last two hours – If children struggle to fall or stay asleep, avoid both TV and rough house in the last two hours before bed. These activities can be too stimulating for good sleep to follow.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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