Creating a bedtime routine for your child
Try to create a routine which is relaxing and calming (such as having a bath, reading a book, and going to bed with the same toy every evening).
Bedtime routine tips
Try to start the bedtime routine at least half an hour before going to bed, to give your child enough time to wind down. Let your child know what’s next in the routine, so that they know what you expect them to do. For instance, “After your bath, we’ll get you dressed for bed”.
- Calm time: offer simple games, colouring-in, or listening to relaxing music. Avoid computer, tablet, TV or phone screens: the light from these devices is stimulating, which can make it harder to fall or stay asleep, so they’re best avoided in the hour before bed.
- A bath can be a nice way to relax and start feeling sleepy, though this doesn’t need to be every day. Help your child get in the habit of brushing their teeth (twice a day). Change their nappy or encourage them to use the toilet, then help them get dressed for bed.
- Chat together. Share how your day went, and how it made you feel and, if your little one’s old enough, encourage them to join in: getting worries off their chest can help them drop off quicker. Even if your toddler can’t speak much, they’ll love having your attention!
- Tell a story or read a book (or look at the pictures and encourage your child to talk about what’s happening). Favourites work well here: children often have a story they like to hear over and over again – especially if you do the silly voices! Rhyming books can also be a fun way to develop language skills.
- You might like to sing a lullaby after the story as your child is settling down to sleep. If your child enjoys it, just give it a go – it doesn’t matter if you think you can’t sing!
- Give kisses and cuddles, and say goodnight. If your child is reluctant to let you leave at this point, say you’ll be back to check on them in 5 minutes – and keep to your word. You can keep repeating this if they’re still awake when you look in on them.
Good to know: You don’t have to cram all of the above into your bedtime routine! Pick activities and order them to suit you and your child, and work up to a consistent routine. A predictable schedule and familiar activities helps your little one feel secure and stable, even if the family routine is disrupted.