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Establishing Consistent Bedtime Routines

by Dr. Susan Canizares | August 9, 2018 | Child Development

Sleep is an important element in any person’s life, particularly a child. A good amount of sleep is necessary for healthy physical, emotional, and mental growth. However, bedtime can also be an ongoing battle. Questions such as, “How do I get my child to sleep on time?” or “How do I make sure they get enough sleep?” are common. While every household and each child’s individual needs are different, these tips can help you establish a consistent bedtime routine:

  • Remove any electronics from your child’s bedroom. Screen time can have a negative effect on sleep—both the amount and the quality. Access to electronics should be limited at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Bedtime routines should be quiet, and take place in the child’s bedroom. This is the perfect time to read stories with your child!
  • Create a schedule for each of the bedtime routine steps. Some children will benefit from a visual schedule that has a picture of each individual step.
  • Remember that each child is different. What works for one child may not work for another. Some children may find bath time a relaxing experience, while others become more excited. You may need to move bath time earlier in the evening if a bath tends to energize your child.
  • Look at where your child will be sleeping. Are there lots of toys and stuffed animals? If so, these may be distracting and cause your child to play when they should be sleeping. Try limiting the stuffed animals to one or two.
  • If your child is afraid to sleep alone, or doesn’t like the dark, make some “Serenity Spray” by filling a spray bottle with some water and a drop or two of a calming scent like lavender. Spray it around the room as part of the bedtime routine.
  • If your child calls out for you, wait a few seconds before answering. Make the wait time longer each time he or she calls for you. Give your child a chance to fall asleep on his or her own.
  • Make sure your child’s bedroom is cool. Don’t feel that your child needs to be bundled up to go to bed.

A good, individualized bedtime routine for each of the children in your house takes time to figure out and establish. Once you have figured out what works best for each child, make sure you stick to it. Consistency is key! Even on the weekends, and when away on vacation, sticking as closely to the bedtime routine as possible will help your child to set their internal body clock. You should see positive results in the long run.

For more information on sleeping tips, check out these resources:

https://www.webmd.com/children/features/make-your-kids-bedtime-battle-free#1

https://www.aota.org/about-occupational-therapy/patients-clients/childrenandyouth/bedtime-routines.aspx

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/bedtime-routine-tips#1