Bedtime Routines to Help Your Toddler Sleep Better
By:Jenn Kelner Sleep Consultant
Does your little one have a hard time falling asleep at night? Are you exhausted by the bedtime battles with your toddler? Does your child repeatedly ask for things just to delay bedtime? The solution to this common child sleep issue may lie in how you and your child spend the last hour before bedtime.
Just like you may have a little bedtime ritual yourself – tea, bath, reading – children also need a soothing bedtime routine.
What is a bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine is a consistent ritual that takes place leading up to lights out. By following a consistent ritual, your child will feel more secure because they know what to expect and understand that bedtime is coming. It can include a few or many steps to help their body wind-down and get ready for sleep.
What does a good bedtime routine look like?
You need to create a nice relaxing bedtime routine to help your little one drift off to sleep. Your routine could include activities like:
- A nice warm bath
- Brushing their teeth
- Bedtime stories
- Songs or lullaby
- Playing soft music
- Talking about your day
- Prayer time
- Getting a glass of water
- Saying goodnight to their toys
Once you decide on a good bedtime routine, try to keep it consistent every day. Your child will begin to associate your bedtime routine with bedtime, and will naturally become sleepy.
What should you exclude from your bedtime routine?
It’s important to exclude high energy activities right before bedtime. Avoid having your children participate in vigorous exercise or rough housing right before going to bed. It’s also important to turn off all electronics an hour before bed. Studies show that if children watch TV, play video games, or use the computer before bedtime, it becomes much more difficult to fall asleep. Make sure you turn off any televisions, computers or hand held video games one hour before bedtime. Also try to avoid the use of bright lights before bed as they supress the production of melatonin, which is like our body’s natural sleeping pill.
What other tips will make bedtime easier?
If you have a child that makes frequent curtain calls after lights out, try to anticipate what they may ask for before you end your bedtime routine. If they often ask for a glass of water, another hug or they “just need to tell you something”, make sure you provide them with lots of opportunities to do these things ahead of time. If your bedtime routine often goes longer than planned, set a kitchen timer so that both you and your child know when it’s time to go to sleep. Finally, children have a hard time falling asleep if they are overtired. Make sure your child has an appropriate bedtime for their age so that it becomes easier for them to fall asleep and they don’t get their second wind.
Jenn Kelner is a mother of 3 children (including twins!) and a Certified Child Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz. She helps tired families with infants, babies and toddlers become well rested families through customized sleep solutions and support. She offers various services including home, phone/Skype and email consultations. For more information visit www.babyzzz.ca.
Read more of our top sleep advice from experts and doctors!