Why Bedtime Routines Are So Important
Parenting magazines and blog posts are always touting the latest “parenting hack” to make life easier, but some things, like sleep, don’t require “hacks” to make life easier – all they need is consistency. A bedtime routine, practised consistently will help your little ones drift off to dreamland faster and without (much) fuss. Most adults practice bedtime routines themselves, even if they’re unaware that’s what they’re doing – washing your face, brushing your teeth, reading a little – all of these things are part of a bedtime routine, so it only makes sense that children would thrive with the familiarity that a bedtime routine brings.
If you haven’t been using a bedtime routine with your little one, the good news is that it’s never too late to start. Make sure you give yourself enough time – between 30 and 45 minutes – because rushing through a bedtime routine can make everyone involved feel stressed and that’s not what we want at bedtime. You want to give your child time to get ready for bed without it being a power struggle or a race against the clock. On nights where you’re running late, and are tempted to rush through it, remind yourself that taking the time to do the bedtime routine will save you time in the long run as your child will be more likely to go to sleep without a fuss.
Bedtime routines take many shapes depending on family priorities, but generally follow a similar pattern. For a toddler, a bedtime routine might look like this:
• Bath (You don’t need to bathe your toddler nightly so this step may slide in and out of the routine as needed)
• Potty time / Diaper change
• Brushing teeth
• Choosing a favourite stuffed toy or comfort item to bring to bed
• Story time
• Bedtime song(s)
• Cuddles and quiet time
• Saying good night
Of course these steps can be done in a different order, depending on personal preference. The last step is important though, as you want to leave your child’s room before she is fully asleep. That way, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she won’t be wondering where you went and she’s more likely to fall back asleep on her own. Bedtime routines allow you to have some one-on-one time with your child, reconnecting and unwinding at the end of a busy day. Not only will a bedtime routine help you bond with your little one, it will also help them fall asleep more easily. Now that’s a win-win!
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. She and her husband, Mike, live in Burlington, Ontario with their 3 children (1+twins!) and when she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she and her global team are working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Today’s Parent, Yummy Mummy Club, PBS Kids, and Canadian Living. Alanna strives in helping families and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and Good Night Sleep Site at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and you can join Alanna on the first Wednesday of every month at the Burlington location of Snuggle Bugz/Nestled for her in-person sleep clinic from 10-11am.