Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bedtime Routine

A bedtime routine can result in a more restful and less stressful night for everyone in the family.  Routines are great for kids.  When they know what comes next it's easier for them to transition.  So during your bedtime routine remind your child of what comes next (ex. "In 5 minutes we'll take a bath").  Stick with your routine and you will find that your nights will become more enjoyable.

Bedtime Tips:
  1. Make sure your child is active every day.  Active children fall asleep easier at bedtime.
  2. If you can, begin your bedtime routine at dinner.  Do not eat dinner in front of the TV.  Spend your meal as a family and talk about your day.
  3. Quiet activities (puzzles, coloring, homework, etc.) are best if you have time between dinner and bath.  But if your child tends to have energy to burn at this time of night, now is the time to let them get it out. 
  4. Calm you child with a warm bath.  Allow some playtime in the bathtub but no more than 15 minutes.  Remember, you want them to settle down now.
  5. Brush teeth, go potty/get a fresh diaper and put on pj's.
  6. Story Time.  Set a limit to how many stories or how long story time is before you begin.  You will be amazed at how early children learn to stall.
  7. Get them in the sleepy mood by turning out the lights but, leave a night light or hall light on.  Play some quiet music (use the same music every night) or a sound machine.  Give your child a comfort item (ex. blanket, stuffed animal) to sleep with. 
  8. Tuck your child in giving hugs and kisses and saying "I love you".
  9. If your child gets out of bed, immediately direct them back to their room and lay them down.  Say no more than "Goodnight, I love you!" and leave the room.  If your child continues to come out of their room, just repeat this step every time.  Eventually they'll give up and stay in bed.  If you are consistent, it should not take more than 2-3 nights to get them to go to sleep on time.  It is so worth it in the end. 
  • Choose a bedtime routine that works best for your family.
  • Have your child pick up toys before bath.  If you have them clean up after bath, you are exposing them to toys that they can't play with and that's just asking for a struggle.
  • It is a good idea to lay out pj's before bath.  This way you don't waste time during your bedtime routine deciding on what your child will wear to bed.  If your children are older, have them do this task.
  •  Begin your bedtime routine at least one hour prior to your child going to sleep.  This should allow enough time for each step.  
    • Bath - 20 minutes
    • Brush Teeth, Potty/Diaper and PJ's - 10 minutes
    • Story Time - 30 minutes maximum
    • Lights out, Hugs and Kisses - 5-10 minutes
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