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Creating a Calming Bedtime
Routine for Children

October 3    Written by Sophia Duhela

My poor daughter.

Last Christmas season, life was chaotic, and the lack of routines totally disrupted her sleep. My once great little sleeper suddenly became overstimulated and a hot mess when it was time for bed.

We learned the hard way; that the absence of structure overwhelmed her and made her feel insecure because she didn’t know what was happening next.

And, I’ve heard from other parents, too, they learn the value of a routine for their child during these busy times when we typically veer away from them.

In this post we’re going to go over a little of the science behind routines, why they’re so helpful for young children, and a breakdown of some sample routines by age that support quality sleep.

Bedtime Routines are Important

This particular study conducted by researchers Jodi A. Mindell and Ariel A. Williamson emphasizes the broad domains of nutrition, hygiene, communication, and physical contact as components of bedtime routines. The study highlights that bedtime routines help promote better sleep in children by incorporating activities such as feeding, healthy snacks, bathing, oral care, reading, singing/lullabies, massage, cuddling/rocking, and more.

The findings from this study suggest that having consistent bedtime routines significantly benefits children’s sleep. Children who follow a regular and predictable routine experience shorter sleep onset latency (how long it takes them to fall asleep) and fewer nighttime awakenings. Bedtime routines provide a sense of security and relaxation, making it easier for children to transition from wakefulness to sleep. Additionally, a consistent routine helps establish a regular sleep schedule, leading to better overall sleep quality and daytime functioning.

By incorporating various activities in the bedtime routine, parents can create a calming environment that signals the body’s internal clock and helps children relax and prepare for sleep.

Why Bedtime Routines are Helpful

In order for children to move from an alert and active state to a relaxed and rested state, there needs to be some sort of transition that cues the body that it’s moving from one state to another.

And, with time and consistency, these routines become powerful cues and good habits that the body recognizes that it’s time to sleep.

Routines also allow a child to know what’s happening next. Children thrive when they know what to expect! This is why, when you veer from their regular routine, you often experience unwanted behaviors or battles. A routine provides this predictability, allowing your child to feel safe and secure because they know what to expect.

This string of events becomes a powerful cue for children of all ages, however, routines should change over time.

Bedtime Routine for a Newborn Baby

By six weeks old, a newborn baby can begin to recognize the patterns of a routine. When you bring your little one home from the hospital or birthing center, you can incorporate nap and bedtime routines right away to help set up a strong sleep foundation.

A quality bedtime routine for a newborn looks like this:

●  Bath
●  Massage
●  Read a book and cuddle
●  Feed
●  Burp
●  Swaddle
●  Put baby in bassinet or crib
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

A quality nap routine for a newborn looks like this:

●  Diaper change
●  Read a book and cuddle
●  Swaddle
●  Put baby in bassinet or crib
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

Bedtime Routine for an Infant

As your little one grows, their Moro reflex lessens, and their stomach gets larger, they no longer need to be swaddled and can go longer between feedings at night. For these reasons, and the fact that we now want to disassociate feeding and sleep, we’re going to change up the routine just a little bit.

A quality bedtime routine for an infant looks like this:

●  Bath
●  Massage
●  Feed (if possible, the feeding should occur 30-40 minutes before baby goes into the crib)
●  Read a book or two and cuddle
●  Sleep sack on
●  Put baby in the crib
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

A quality nap routine for an infant looks like this:

●  Diaper change
●  Read a book and cuddle
●  Swaddle
●  Put baby in bassinet or crib
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

Bedtime Routine for a Toddler

There are even more things to be mindful of as your infant enters the toddler years. You may notice there’s more energy to be expelled and hunger due to growth and development.

A quality bedtime routine for a toddler looks like this:

●  Bath
●  Massage
●  Feed/bottle (if possible, the feeding should occur 30-40 minutes before your toddler goes into their crib or bed)
●  Brush teeth
●  Story or playtime in the bedroom
●  Sleep sack on
●  Put your toddler in the crib or have them get in their toddler bed
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

A quality nap routine for a toddler looks like this:

●  Diaper change
●  Story or playtime in the bedroom
●  Sleep sack on
●  Put your toddler in the crib or have them get in their toddler bed
●  White noise on
●  Lights off (the room should be totally dark)

Other Considerations for Your Child’s Bedtime Routine

As you can see, bedtime routines change over time as your child grows and develops. Other things you may need to consider adding to your child’s routine might be:

  1. A bedtime snack! When many children are done with bottles or their sippy cup, you can replace them with a high-protein snack such as cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, or toast with nut butter.

  2. Large Motor Playtime! Some children will need to expel their last bits of energy from the day before starting their calming bedtime routine. Have them play outside, kick a ball with you, or go for a walk before officially starting their bedtime routine. This will ensure that their body is ready to be still and calm when it’s time for bed.

Already have a solid bedtime routine in place and you’re not sure what you need to do to help your child sleep better?

Did you find this information helpful and want to learn more about working together?

You can take a look at my packages here OR book a free discovery call with me. I’d love to chat with you and learn more about your child’s sleep patterns.

September 5    Written by Sophia Duhela

Why Kids Going to Bed Early Can Help Your Marriage Thrive | The Importance Explained

When it comes to marriage, maintaining a strong bond and cultivating a healthy relationship is crucial. While the demands of raising children can sometimes make this challenging, there’s a simple solution that many parents overlook: establishing a consistent bedtime routine for kids, ensuring they sleep in their own beds. In this blog, we’ll explore how this practice can benefit your marriage and why it is essential for both you and your little ones.

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