What’s a good bedtime routine for children?

A regular, predictable bedtime routine can help children get enough sleep. Try to plan this around an appropriate bedtime.

Make their room comfortable

Make the bedroom a safe, relaxing space free of clutter. A blackout blind can be helpful to keep out sunlight. Some children may find a night light soothing.

For babies, keep the room temperature between 16-20°C. The Lullaby Trust has more information on how to get the right temperature for babies. 

Older children can kick off or move sheets as they need to.

Limit screen use

The light from TVs, tablets and phones is stimulating, so turn them off an hour before bed.

It’s a good idea to keep screens out of the bedroom at night altogether. Older children may want to stay up late on social media, or check their phones in the morning. Try storing or charging phones in another room.

Help them wind down

Prepare your child for bed.

  • For younger children, sing a lullaby as your child is settling down to sleep. Then say goodnight. If they don’t want you to go, tell them you’ll be back to check on them in five minutes – and keep your word. You can keep repeating this if they’re still awake.
  • Get your child to take a bath. This should help them to start feeling sleepy.
  • Find some calming activities. This could be colouring-in for younger children. Or try reading or listening to relaxing music.
  • Tell a story or read a book. Younger children often like to hear their favourites again and again. Older children might like to read a book by themselves, or even read aloud to their parents.

Introduce some healthy habits

  • Help younger children get in the habit of brushing their teeth before bed.
  • Change their nappy or encourage them to use the toilet, then help them get dressed for bed.
  • Chat together. Share how your day went, and how it made you feel. If your child is old enough, encourage them to join in. Getting worries off their chest can help them drop off quicker.
  • Let your child know what’s next in the routine, so they understand what you expect them to do.

Once you’ve found a routine that works for your child, try to keep it the same each night.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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