Monday, 8 October 2018

How To Have a Happy Bedtime Routine For Children

How does the children’s bedtime routine go for you? Do you get tears, shouting or endless requests for one more story? Bedtime should be a lovely end to the day with cuddles and closeness, but sometimes as parents we can dread the nightly struggle. The more tired we are as parents, and the more desperately we need some child free time the longer bedtime seems to take. Here are some suggestions for how to have a stress free bed time based on my toddler’s bedtime routine.

A baby asleep on a bed
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Suggestions For A Calming And Happy Bedtime Routine


A Bit Of Play 


Just because it’s close to bedtime, it doesn’t mean that you can’t allow them to have a little bit of play. In fact it will probably help them to fall asleep that little bit quicker because they’re using up the last of their energy. We aim to have some active play together or a bit of a dance followed by some quieter playtime. Wooden toys are perfect for play at the beginning of the bedtime routine because they encourage children to use their imaginations without over stimulating them. No batteries means the only noises and movements from the toys will be the ones created by children themselves. It’s a great way to get children to wind down at their own rate. 

Have a Snack 


After some play a little snack should make sure they don’t get hungry overnight and it prevents those requests for food once they climb into bed. We often have something like peanut butter on toast, porridge with bananas or a low sugar cereal because they are quick to make and filling. Slow release energy is ideal. 

Bathtime 


We always used to have a fun bathtime full of splashing and fun, but after advice from a Baby Sleep Consultant we now have more calm bathtimes. Running the bath gives us just enough time for a last toilet break and teeth brushing. Lights are dimmed and the bath has just a few toys, but lots of lovely bubbles (preferably with a nighttime calming scent). The mood is kept as soothing as possible and time in the bath is kept short: around 10 minutes so my toddler doesn’t get too excited again. By the time my toddler is out of the bath she is normally calm and ready for bed. 

Soothing Techniques 


To make sure we stay in the right mood for bed we have more dimmed lights in the bedroom and I dress my toddler in cozy pyjamas as quickly as possible. If my toddler is still quite awake I sit her on my lap or lie down next to her to have cuddles and a bedtime story keeping them wrapped up. I read in a soothing and calm voice and find that even if she doesn’t fall asleep during the story she is normally ready to be tucked up in bed. 

Keeping Them In Bed 


If your child still isn’t ready for bed by this point I find the best technique is to engage with them as little as possible. I will sit next to their bed quietly and every so often say in a calm voice that it is time to sleep and encourage them to lie down. If they are calm I will leave them, but if they get upset I would rather stay. I find it’s better to spend 15 minutes more getting my girls to sleep than for them to get upset because it takes so long for a distressed child to get to sleep. They often don’t sleep well after a stressful bedtime and it ruins my evening too. Normally after a small amount more of independent play or looking at the pictures in a story book they lie down and close their eyes.

Fingers crossed these tips can make your bedtime routine more calm and happier for everyone.

***Disclosure: This is a collaborative post***

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