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How to Develop a Good Bedtime Routine

by Tina Goldsmith 20/08/2015
child asleep in grey star snuggle sac

A good bedtime routine is important to help children to develop better sleep habits. You must be consistent when you implement a new routine, your child’s sleep patterns may appear to become worse before they get better as they may try to resist new changes that you make. Parents often give up when implementing a routine as they feel that it isn’t working. You need to give any changes at least 2 weeks in order to see results. 

The key thing about bedtime routines is to be consistent. You must do the same thing each and every night at the same time and this includes at the weekend! Here are our top tips to developing a good bedtime routine: 

Make sure that you do the same thing at the same time each day, including waking your child at the same time each morning, this will strengthen their body clock. Yes we know this is hard on a Saturday and Sunday but it is also very important!

Switch off computers and televisions an hour before bedtime, these can be very stimulating activities and can hinder a good night’s sleep.

Activities involving fine motor skills are generally relaxing so encourage your child to take part in these before bedtime. Colouring in, jigsaws, threading activities all help to promote relaxation. You will need to plan appropriate relaxing activities in advance.

If your child enjoys being bathed then you should include this within your routine. A bath 30 minutes before bed is perfect for aiding sleep. The decrease in body temperature after getting out of a bath makes us feel sleepy around half an hour later.

Give your child warnings that bedtime is approaching, you may use a visual timetable to show them what is going to happen next.

Use calming music in the early part of your bedtime routine to help your child to begin to wind down.

Say goodnight and leave your child to fall asleep by themselves.

Do not leave your child watching television or listening to music or stories if they have sleep issues, they must learn to fall asleep by themselves at the start of the night so that they can then resettle themselves to sleep should they wake up during the night.

Write down the routine that you are following so that everybody involved knows exactly what the procedure for bedtime is.