Bedtime is a source of frustration and anxiety for many parents. As a child sleep consultant, I always tell parents that establishing a consistent, soothing routine can turn the dreaded bedtime into a wonderful bonding time that both child and parent can look forward to.
The bedtime routine is specific to each family, but there are some standard components to a successful routine.
- Story Time: I always recommend incorporating reading into the bedtime routine. It is best to only read one or two books.
- Cuddle Time: Have 2-3 minutes of just cuddling with mom or dad.
- Singing: Find a song that the child enjoys and sing that same song every night.
- Key Phrase: Develop a key phrase, such as “Nighty-night sweetheart”, and repeat this phrase every night to let them know it’s time for sleep.
- Lights out: Finally, lights are turned off and the child is put into their bed awake. At this point they should be ready for sleep and be able to fall asleep on their own.
Families can also incorporate special things to make the routine uniquely theirs, such as yoga, baby massage, or prayer.
Creating a consistent routine can help provide the child a sense of calming, and lets them know what to expect each night before it’s time to go to sleep. In addition, establishing this type of ritual early will only benefit the child as they can continue a version of the routine into the tween/teen years.