Creating A Routine For A Good Night's Sleep For Children

(AD) My children aren’t great sleepers, they never have been, and honestly bedtime can be hard work at times. My eldest daughter used to fight going to sleep for hours and we tried so many different approaches. Over time we have discovered that the best way to get our children to go to sleep without a fight is to have a consistent evening routine including a bath. Why does a good bed and bath time routine help? What should you include? Here are my tips from 9 years of parenting.


A baby asleep in a cot after a good bedtime routine
Sweet dreams after a good bath routine

9 Steps for a Good Bath and Bed Time Routine for Babies and Children

Be Consistent

Your children’s bedtime and what time you start their bath will vary based on what works best for your family, but the key is to do the same activities in the same order starting at the same time each night. These form cues to your child’s body so it knows it is time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Ideally you need to start the process before they are showing signs of tiredness or they can get overtired by the end of the routine so it may take a little trial and error to find what time is best and remember this will change as they get older.

Have Screen Free Time

While we might not be able to do much about the light streaming in through all the windows in summer, turning off all screens eg the TV and tablets at least an hour before bed helps little brains and eyes to relax. If you can shut out some of the daylight this will help too.

Snack Time

Depending on when you have dinner it can be helpful for small children to have a top up snack before bed. Something high in the amino acid tryptophan which is thought to aid sleep is a good choice. Ideas include: milk, peanut butter on whole grain bread or porridge with banana.

Brush Their Teeth

My youngest child got his first teeth at just a few months old so teeth brushing needs to become part of the bedtime process when they are a baby. We have found they are less likely to fight teeth brushing if we do it before they go in the bath, but once they are feeling sleepy it becomes a battle.

Bath time

Ideally bath time should be part of the calming down process, but there is no reason not to have bubbles and a few toys (although warm water alone is enough for the first 6 weeks). Gentle baby bath products like Good Bubble are ideal to make sure delicate skin doesn’t get too dry or irritated. Choose the shampoo carefully to ensure it is tear-free, although unfortunately this claim only means that it wont sting if it accidentally gets in their eyes and it doesn’t work magic on an overtired child who doesn’t want a bath. Playing with the bath bubbles is normally the best way to get smiles on those occasions though. 

A preschoolers face surrounded by bath bubbles
Washing hair in a bubbly bath


Go To The Toilet

If your child is out of nappies then it's a good idea to encourage a toilet visit before you leave the bathroom. It can be easy to forget and with a recently potty trained toddler it was always on the nights we forgot to ask that they had an accident.

A Soothing Massage

A massage is a great way to bond with babies and toddlers love them too. Coconut oil can be a good choice to use for massage, but if you don’t want to give them a full massage rubbing a mild moisturiser in gently to your child’s skin can help to relax them and protect their skin.

Story Time

Once dressed in night clothes and ready for bed we read a book in a dark room. When small I have always read Goodnight Moon with my children. Reading the same book each night just before they go to sleep provides a clear message to them that it is time to switch off. As they get older they start to want a variety of stories, but the key is to read the books slowly and calmly. Books like The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep can be helpful, or if you have multiple children you are putting to bed at different times an audio book works really well. We have one of the cheaper Amazon Echo’s in my daughters’ bedroom specifically for this purpose.

Cuddles

You might want to then leave your child to go to sleep on their own, but we normally cuddle ours as they drift off (if they didn’t fall asleep during the story). Yes it takes up a bit more of the evening, but seeing them gradually drift off to dreamland is magical. It doesn’t matter what the day has been like, but hearing their breathing slow and their face relax resets me and makes me feel calm.

I hope these tips help you to establish a good night time routine for your children and you.

***This is a collaborative post***

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