We’ve all got a little ritual we go through when we’re putting our kids to bed. We obviously need to get them into appropriate sleeping attire, get their teeth brushed, change their diaper and so on, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that a bedtime routine is a really effective tool for getting your baby to sleep.
When done right, the bedtime routine helps baby’s brain to realize that it’s almost time for bed, which prompts melatonin production and helps get your little one ready for a nice, easy transition into sleep.
In today’s video, I’ll give you a few tips for creating an ideal bedtime routine that will kick those sleepy hormones into gear and help set you and your baby up for a successful snooze night after night.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Today I wanna talk about bedtime routines. You’ve probably already heard it before but I wanna give you some tips today on what I consider great steps in a child’s bedtime routine.
Now, the first thing to think about is we all have bedtime routines, right? Think about how you get yourself ready for bed every night. You probably brush your teeth, wash your face, get your pajamas on. That’s your routine. You do it in the same order every night most likely and what it’s doing is it’s helping you transition from day into night. It’s getting your body and your brain ready for the fact that you’re gonna go to sleep now for the night.
So it’s really important for our children that we do the same thing, that we allow them a little bit of space to get used to the idea that they’re gonna go to bed for the night. So a routine I believe can start from day one really and it should continue on with your children really for the rest of their life.
So some of the common mistakes people often make in a routine is that it’s too long, there’s too many steps, there’s all kinds of things going on, there’s reading and massage and TV watching and game playing and all of these things are happening. You really wanna keep it moving in a step by step fashion. You want it to be about 20 to 30 minutes. I find 20 to 30 minutes is really optimal for getting that body and brain ready for the idea but not too long that they’re gonna start to push into overtiredness.
You also want it to be predictable, right? So if there’s 10 steps involved in your bedtime routine, your child is gonna have no opportunity to really remember what’s coming next. So about five steps is what I like to see happening and I don’t recommend that there be any kind of TV watching in your child’s bedtime routine. We know that the light source that comes from screen use really interferes with melatonin production and that’s that sleepy hormone that’s really super important to helping us fall asleep in a timely manner at bedtime and also keep us asleep through the night. So no screens an hour before bedtime is my rule of thumb around that.
There doesn’t really need to be a snack involved. If you’ve had dinner just an hour or two prior then there’s no need to add food to the equation.
So my favorite bedtime routine looks like this. A bath or shower. I think that that is a great stage setter. It’s a good first step. Most children really enjoy bath time or shower time and you don’t need to worry about them relaxing, right? I have never met a child who’s like listening to Mozart and candlelight and relaxing in a bubble bath. That’s not happening. That’s for you but not for your child. It’s fun, they like to play in there. There’s so many amazing bath toys. Who wouldn’t love it?
Keep it short enough though. I would say about 10 minutes is perfect for bath time, maybe 15 but you don’t wanna let this drag too, too long or again, overtiredness is what we wanna be aware of. So bath, that’s awesome and then obviously getting into some sort of pajamas, brushing teeth, story time I love.
If your child is interested or enjoys getting a massage from you, I think that’s a great way to get that touch that everyone loves to have and who doesn’t love a massage, it feels wonderful but again, don’t let that drag on too long either ’cause we don’t want them to get into that overtired phase but I love story time. I mean, I’m a teacher by training. So any chance we have to read to our children even in infancy I think it’s a great habit to get into. Just one or two, two at the most. Our rule always with our children until they could read to themselves was two books and only ever two books a night and that’s really important to hang onto especially when you get into that toddler phase where they like to push boundaries. Just hang on tight to the two rule and that’s gonna save you a lot of time down the road but stories is great.
If talking about a baby here then feeding may need to take place in the routine ’cause you wanna make sure that they’re getting a nice full tummy so that they can go as long as they possibly can through the night. One word of caution though in your routine. If feeding is part of it, make sure your baby stays awake through the feeding. That’s very, very important. If they fall asleep while you’re feeding then what’s happening is that feeding is becoming the sleep prop. It’s becoming the sleep crutch. It’s the way in which your baby thinks her or she needs in order for sleep to come.
So what’s gonna happen then is you’re gonna get stuck in this sort of cycle of waking up periodically through the night needing you to feed them to sleep again and this might not be a food issue. It might just be a strategy issue, okay? There’s a big difference there. The food is a nice perk but it’s the strategy that they’re after, not the food. If they think they need that breast or bottle in their mouth in order to get back to sleep then that’s why they’re waking repeatedly through the night. So keep your baby as awake as you can through that routine, the feed in the routine and get them to the crib again as awake as you can so that they can start putting the pieces together for falling asleep independently, right, without a lot of help or props and that’s gonna turn this child into such a beautiful sleeper. You’re gonna be amazing all of your friends.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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