Bedtime Routines

When they are done consistently overtime, bedtime routines can help children to fall asleep easier. Being structured can also help reduce the push back and power struggles that are common around this time of the day. Here are a few general guidelines.

  • Same time, same place, same order every night. For a long time in our house this was bath, jammies, teeth, story, bed. When there have been changes like my older daughter wanting to shower in the mornings, the change became the new consistent routine.
  • Spend the last 10-15 minutes (at least) in their bedroom.
  • If there are issues with the child falling or staying asleep, avoid screentime and rough-house play in the last two hours before bed.
  • Routines should be at a minimum 20 minutes and a ballpark maximum of an hour long.
  • Building reading into your bedtime routine can be an easy way to hit the Department of Educations goal of children being read to at least 20 minutes a day.

Please comment and share your bedtime routine tips!

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.

2 thoughts on “Bedtime Routines”

  1. We cannot have our older daughter spend the last 10-15 minutes or any minutes in her bedroom before sleep because she shares the room with her younger sister who goes to sleep before then. We have a set sleep routine for both our kids and we don’t have any struggles. However, our big kid (almost 4) doesn’t fall asleep till 10:00-10:30pm EACH night since she takes a 1-2 hour nap at daycare. She only sleeps 8 hours at night. This doesn’t seem to be a problem at all for her, but it is hard on us. Would staying in her room in the dark with her for a few minutes help her fall asleep sooner? I’m thinking not…but this blog on bedtime routines got me thinking…even though we’ve discussed our daughters low sleep requirements with the pediatrician since she was 18 months old (as this is when the drop-off began).

  2. As much as it can be helpful for children to be in their own rooms to settle in before sleep, that is not always available. I probebly wouldn’t stay in the room for her to fall asleep each night as you will become part of her sleep association and down the road she may feel dependent on you being there so she can transition. I would focus on teaching her ways to relax like breathing, counting, visualization or progressive muscle relaxation activities. There is a good book titled Quiet Times: Relaxation Techniques for Preschoolers that may be helpful. You might help her avoid television and rough-house or active play in the last two hours before bed. You might try moving her bedtime slightly earlier (maybe 15 minutes) each week. I hope this helps! Rene

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