What’s a good bedtime routine for children?

A regular, predictable bedtime routine is great for helping children get enough sleep. Try to plan this around an appropriate bedtime for your child.

baby sleeping

Make the bedroom a place they want to be

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

For babies, try to keep the room temperature between 16-20°C. Older children will be able to kick off or pull back sheets as they need to.

Limit screen use

It’s a good idea to keep screens out of the bedroom at night altogether. Older children can be tempted to stay up late or wake up to check social media. Try storing or charging phones in another room.

The light from TVs, tablets and phones is stimulating, so turn them off an hour before bed as well. Wind down with calming activities instead. This could be colouring-in for younger children, or reading or listening to relaxing music.

Half an hour before bed

There are a number of things you can do to prepare your child for bed:

  • A bath can be a nice way to start feeling sleepy (but you don’t have to do this every day).
  • 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.
  • Tell a story or read a book. Younger children often like to hear their favourites over and over again. Older children might like to read a book by themselves, or even read aloud to their parents.
  • For younger children, sing a lullaby as your child is settling down to sleep. Then give kisses and cuddles, and say goodnight. If they don’t want you to go, say you’ll be back to check on them in five minutes – and keep to your word. You can keep repeating this if they’re still awake.

Keep things consistent

Let your child know what’s next in the routine, so they know what you expect them to do. For instance, “After your bath, we’ll get you dressed for bed”. This helps your child feel safe and secure, and lets them know it’s time to sleep.

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

 

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