Developing a Consistent Bedtime Routine for your Child

photo of child sleepingSleeping can seem like one of the easiest, most natural functions to adults. However, most parents can attest that getting a child to bed can be difficult at times. Poor sleeping habits and inconsistent routines can affect your child in many ways, whereas consistent routines and positive sleeping habits can have many benefits. A predictable and consistent bedtime routine gives your child a sense of security and teaches them how to fall asleep on their own.

Here are some consequences that your child may face with lack of sleep:

  • Memory impairments
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Low energy throughout the day
  • Lack of focus

There are many positive benefits that come from a good night’s sleep:

  • Improved attention span
  • Promotes growth of the body and brain
  • Improved cognitive skills
  • Increase in your child’s ability to learn
  • Functioning at their best

Preventing Bedtime Issues with Consistency

Creating a solid bedtime routine is important for all stages of child development. Maintaining a regular schedule for sleep and wake time is a necessary part of your child’s growth and will ultimately evolve over time.

The best way to eliminate bedtime problems is to develop a positive sleep routine and begin it at the same time with your child each night. It’s also important to make sure to give yourself enough time for the routine so that it does not become a rushed process.

Bedtime routines should last about 15 minutes – it may last longer if you give a bath or a shower. Avoid sugary snacks, screen time and stimulating games about an hour before bed as these could affect your child from becoming tired. For toddlers, you should start your routine sometime around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. A bedtime routine can include a bath or shower (the use of lotion after can help calm the body), brushing teeth, reading a book, singing a lullaby or talking about your day – and then lights out. For preschoolers, try giving them options so they feel more involved in the process. This can include letting them choose between two books or two sets of pajamas to pick between. Keep in mind, giving them too many options can be over stimulating and drag out bedtime. Your child’s bedtime routine should be low-key and relaxed; make sure their room is low-lit, quiet and a comfortable temperature. The use of a white noise machine also can help your child fall asleep faster. When putting your child to bed, make sure they are drowsy, but still awake; this teaches them to fall asleep on their own.

If you begin to have issues with a newly set up bedtime routine, don’t fret. Keep your routine consistent and after a couple of weeks your child will be in tune with the schedule. They will then expect the same sequence of events to happen each night from there on out.

Keep learning with us

Between our Parenting U video series and our Just Kids Health podcast, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more with our pediatric experts.

Parenting U video series: Children’s Nebraska offers a 100 percent virtual Parenting U video series covering popular topics such as Preparing for Your Newborn, Mastering Potty Training and Effective Timeout Techniques. Click here to see our list of topics and to register.

Just Kids Health podcast: With the Just Kids Health podcast, Children’s pediatric experts are here to answer your questions and weigh in on hot topics—to help you keep your child healthy, safe & strong. We’re here for you. Listen in.

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