It’s so easy to blow this off, but it’s the sleep strategy that will get you the best results: A Consistent Routine. Why? Anyone who has studied child development knows that kids function better when they know what to expect. Kids feel safe and comforted when routines are followed. This is how teachers get a classroom of 25 kids to do exactly what they want them to do. They set expectations and then stick to them consistently. Bedtime is no different. Set expectations and be persistent each and every night.
Steps to Create a Dependable Bedtime Routine:
1.) An hour before desired sleep time, remove stimulating things such as screens with blue light and background noise, sugar, dim lighting, quiet play with basic non-electronic toys,
2.) Decide what time your child should be sleeping and start the routine 60 minutes prior. It seems like a long process, but it prevents kiddos from drawing out bedtime later.
3.) Choose some sleep inducing activities like bath, massage with lavender, bedtime stories, snuggle time, lullabies, rocking, meditation CDs
4.) Leave your child’s bed and room after a designated activity, like bedtime story or lullaby/ snuggle time.
5.) Tell your child you will check on her in 10 minutes. Make sure you actually follow through with this.
*As your child grows, this routine will need to be tweaked and changed, but keeping the basic framework the same can work wonders.
*If you have more than one child, try to stagger bedtimes so that each child gets his or her own routine and special time together. Alternate caregivers so each child gets quality time with both parents.
6:30 Turn off TV, dim lights in the home, and facilitate quiet imaginative play
7:00 Massage with lavender infused oil
7:10 Put on PJs, brush teeth
7:20 Read a bedtime story & snuggle / breastfeed
7:30 Lights out and leave room
7:40 Check on your child and reassure her if she’s still awake
*If you’re still breastfeeding, this is an essential part of the bedtime routine. After the bedtime story would be an effective time.
Try to replicate this routine as closely as possible when you are traveling or in another place. At the same time, remember to be flexible and realize your perfect routine will not always happen. Keep it consistent 90% of the time and you should be in for some restful nights. Speaking of you, here are a few great guidelines for an adult bedtime routine.