Even when they’re tired, children are master procrastinators when it comes to going to bed. Whether they want another glass of water, an ‘important’ chat, or help looking for something – they always seem to fight feeling tired. This is why establishing a bedtime routine for children is important.
Children need to know that the daily routine of going to bed is going to be consistent so they get the sleep they need to recharge and be able to engage as fully as possible in play and school to ensure good development.
Here are some additional benefits of establishing a bedtime routine for children and tips on how to start one.
What Are the Benefits of a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine for children provides security in an uncertain world. Children crave routines because they feel safe when they know what’s coming next. As children grow into the toddler stage, they are able to see that the world around them is a big place that can sometimes be a bit scary. Knowing what to expect each evening provides children with a sense of security before they drift off sleep.
Getting into a routine before bedtime also encourages great sleeping habits. Teaching your little one to get in the habit of planning for bed will set the foundation for healthy sleep patterns when your they become a busy big child! Children benefit from a routine that allows them to prepare for sleep. That means dimming the lights, putting away toys and avoiding media for at least an hour before bedtime. Before you know it, your child will be thinking about sleep long before you say the words.
Creating a bedtime routine for children also has it benefits for parents. When your children have a consistent bedtime, you can plan on having some adults-only time at night. Take this time to watch a film or talk about your day without any distractions.
How Do You Establish a Routine?
It’s never too early to establish a bedtime routine for children; you can start from the day they are born! Up until they are three years old, it’s not necessarily a problem if your child doesn’t have a consistent routine yet. However, after this, your child’s sleep pattern should begin to be more consistent.
Consistency is key when starting a routine, so pick a bedtime and stick to it. This can be difficult between after-school activities and homework, but your child’s internal clock adjusts easier with a consistent pattern. When establishing a routine, don’t focus on just the hour before bedtime. Think of it as a routine for the whole night. Eat dinner at the same time and setting up a post-dinner routine that your children follow each evening. This can include cleaning up the dinner table, finishing homework, setting out tomorrow’s clothes and book bag, taking a bath and going to bed.
Avoid giving stimulants (including sweets and chocolate – which contains caffeine) to you children for at least two hours before bedtime.
What Does a Typical Bedtime Routine For Children Look Like?
Here are tips for every age group:
- One to Three Year Olds
For little ones, bedtime routines should follow the 3 Bs: begin with a bath, followed by books and then bed. Children this age are often overtired and moody once bedtime rolls around, so it’s important to keep it simple and help them relax.
- Three to Five Year Olds
When you child reaches this age to introduce choices. Toddlers and young children will try everything to stay up later, so it’s important to keep reiterating, ‘It’s time for bed now.’ However, children this age like to have choices. Let your little one pick out their clothes for the next day, tuck in their cuddly toys or get their own water — so long as these choices aren’t used as stalling activities. They can follow the same routine as the younger child — for example, a bath and story time.
- Five to 10 Year Olds
For older children, it’s important to stress independence. By this age, children are developing a little more autonomy and may not want to be treated like a baby. They should be able to get their things ready for school the next day all by themselves. This may allow them to feel a sense of responsibility and importance. Before bed, you can read to them, but also give them the opportunity to read independently for 10 to 15 minutes to allow them the chance to feel more independent.