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Establishing a Fun Bedtime Routine for Kids

In this article, we talk about the importance of having a bedtime routine for kids. Plus, we give you some ideas of how to establish this!

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When it comes to raising kids, having a consistent bedtime routine for them is one of the most important things you can do. A solid bedtime routine will help your children learn how to wind down and prepare for sleep, provide structure and predictability, avoid sleep problems, and make bedtime less stressful for everyone involved!

A good bedtime routine that incorporates relaxation, quiet activities, and other calming activities can help your kids get a truly good night’s sleep and avoid waking up in the middle of the night. We’ll touch on topics such as how to decide on a bedtime, what activities should be included, and how to ensure that your family keeps up the routine when things get busy. We’ll also provide some ideas for calming activities that can help your kids wind down before they drift off to sleep!

Dream of sweet adventures.

Dream of adventure with Let’s Roam Adventures from Scratch books—the perfect family-bonding activity before the kids’ bedtime routine begins. From silly tasks like singing a song together to more challenging activities like creating a craft project, Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition is the perfect bonding activity for families before heading to sleep. With this book, you’ll never dread bedtime again! So grab your book and start scratching off for an unforgettable experience.

What Having a Child’s Bedtime Routine is and Why They Need One

Creating a predictable bedtime routine can help your child have a better night’s sleep. It not only helps them fall asleep faster, but it also has long-term benefits for their overall quality of life.

A simple routine that includes brushing their teeth, taking a warm bath or shower, changing into PJs, and reading a bedtime story can make bedtime easier for you and your child. After all, your child needs to establish a consistent routine to learn how to fall asleep on their own and become more independent!

In addition to providing structure, regular bedtime routines can also help kids develop healthy sleep habits that will stay with them as they grow older. For example, pediatric studies have shown that children who follow sleep schedules fall asleep quicker and wake up less throughout the night (which we can all appreciate!).

You may have heard of the Mindell method, a popular sleep routine developed by Dr. Jodi Mindell. This method was designed to help parents create a simple and predictable bedtime ritual that not only helps kids fall asleep quickly but also keeps them in bed until morning.

The Mindell method focuses on four main elements:

  • Setting a consistent bedtime every night
  • Providing enough physical activity during the day
  • Keeping bedtime activities relaxing and calming
  • Avoiding stimulating activities before bed

Additionally, research has shown that bedtime routines for kids help improve their cognitive skills. Consistent nights of quality sleep improve a child’s working memory and attention span. As a result, children who sleep well tend to have more academic success and increased social skills.

Sleep routines also provide valuable quality time with your child. Creating a special routine that you both look forward to can help build strong relationships and even promote better mental health. By establishing a consistent bedtime routine, you can create a comfortable and secure environment for your child to help them get enough sleep and set them up for success.

Tips for Avoiding Bedtime Battles

Pediatricians say that creating a consistent bedtime routine can help your child fall asleep more easily, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to deal with resistance. We’ve all been there.

Here are some bedtime “do’s” for avoiding bedtime battles:

  • Start the routine early so there is enough time for all steps before it’s time for your child to go to sleep.
  • Create a relaxing atmosphere. Dim the lights, play soft music, and create a calming environment.
  • Don’t introduce new activities or toys near bedtime—keep things familiar to help your child wind down.
  • Make a bedtime routine chart. You can make a fun, printable chart with pictures to help your child understand the order of the routine.
  • Let your child choose some aspects of the routine, like which book they want to read, lullaby they want you to sing, or what stuffed animal they’d like to snuggle with.
  • Talk about the plan for the night ahead of time and make sure your child is clear on what to expect.
  • Stick to the same routine each night as much as possible so your child knows what to expect.
  • Take care of any problem behaviors or activities that might disrupt bedtime before they begin.
  • Offer positive reinforcement and praise when your child follows the routine.
  • Do your best to incorporate hygiene into the routine. Teaching children the importance of dental care and washing their face at a young age will encourage a lifelong sense of cleanliness.

Avoid these bedtime “don’t’s”:

  • Don’t engage in arguments or try to reason with your child at bedtime.
  • Don’t give in just to avoid a battle—this will only lead to more conflicts down the road.
  • Caffeine before bedtime can lead to some hyper kids and bad sleepers.
  • Avoid being overly strict and demanding—children need to feel safe, secure, and loved before going off to sleep.
  • Prepare yourself for some stalling and tantrums.
  • Don’t let your child sleep in your bed—it can lead to a habit of dependency and make it harder for them to fall asleep on their own.
  • Don’t give in to last-minute requests when they are already in bed. This reinforces the idea that their protests work and should be done again.

Although it may take some time to establish the perfect routine for you and your family, eventually, it will become second nature, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Bedtime Routines By Age

Creating a bedtime routine for your child is important, but the activities involved in the routine can vary by age. Here are some sample bedtime routines for creating a routine tailored to each age group to promote better sleep:

Bedtime Routines for Infants

Pediatrics suggest a bedtime routine for infants should last about 20 minutes. While infants may seem more complicated, they can actually be easier than older children in regard to the number of hours of sleep they need. Plus, they typically won’t fight a bedtime routine.

For infants, a bedtime routine should include the following:

  • A warm and soothing bath time.
  • A quiet, comforting activity like reading stories or singing lullabies
  • Giving your infant time for self-soothing
  • Crackling noises from a white noise machine or fan to help them feel secure.
  • Keeping the lights low and keeping noise to a minimum
  • Swaddling your infant for extra comfort for infants up to 6 months old

Toddler Bedtime Routine

Your two to three-year-old toddler needs consistent, predictable bedtime routines to help them understand when it’s time for sleep and avoid sleep regression. Establishing a routine early can help teach your toddler healthy habits that will stay with them as they grow up.

Here are some activities you may want to include in your toddler sleep routine:

  • Start the routine about 1-1.5 hours before bedtime.
  • Turn off any screens and dim the lights to signal that it’s time to start winding down.
  • Brush teeth together, followed by a warm bath or shower if desired.
  • Remind your little one “to go potty” before getting into bed.
  • Put on PJs and read a bedtime story together.
  • Sing a lullaby or two and encourage your young children to pick out their favorite stuffed animal for snuggling at night.
  • Give hugs, kisses, and say goodnight before closing the door.
  • Leave a night light or special object in the room that helps your child feel secure.

Elementary School-Aged Children’s Routine.

For this age group, it’s important to balance structure with some flexibility. Here are some activities you may want to include in your elementary school-aged child’s bedtime routine:

  • Start the routine about one hour before bedtime.
  • Turn off any screens and dim the lights to signal that it’s time to get ready for bed.
  • Change into PJs, brush your teeth, and wash up.
  • Encourage your child to choose one activity, such as drawing a picture or reading a book in their bedroom before bedtime.
  • Talk about how the day went and what tomorrow holds. It helps children feel secure in knowing their parents are around.
  • Tuck your child into bed, read a story or sing a song, and offer hugs and cuddles before closing the door.
  • If still needed, leave a nightlight on rather than turning all of the lights out.
  • Allow some flexibility in activities depending on what works best for your family. You may want to incorporate calming activities such as yoga, meditation, or writing in a journal.

Bedtime Routines for Older Children and Teens.

At this age, they will have developed more independence and not need as much assistance from you. 

Here are some activities you may want to include in your teen or preteen’s bedtime routine.

  • Encourage them to start their routine about 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Ask your preteen or teen to turn off any screens and dim their lights to signal that it’s time for bed.
  • Allow them some free time to relax, such as doing some light reading or writing in a journal.
  • Offer encouragement and support as they prepare for the next day.
  • Remind them to practice good hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth and washing their face.
  • Offer your preteen or teen a brief hug or kiss, and say goodnight before leaving the room.

The idea is to create structure while allowing them some flexibility in activities that will help them relax and get ready for better sleep.

By establishing a consistent bedtime routine, your child will develop healthy habits that will stick with them as they grow up. A good night’s rest is essential for their physical and emotional well-being. Setting aside time to establish a bedtime routine can make all the difference in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Ideas for Making a Bedtime Routine More Fun

Turning something seemingly boring into a fun activity can make a world of difference in how children view bedtime. Here are some ideas to help you transition your kid’s bedtime routine into something enjoyable:

  • Make it a game or competition: Set up challenges for them, such as who can brush their teeth the fastest, etc.
  • Allow them to help with the bedtime setup: Ask your child to pick out his or her own pillow, favorite blanket, and stuffed animals for their bed.
  • Turn it into a story: Create a fun story that follows the same order of activities each night before bed.
  • Read together: Choose books or stories that talk about getting ready for bed and going to sleep.
  • Sing songs: Kids love singing, so come up with some fun tunes that they can sing as part of their routine.
  • Challenge them to hum a song while brushing their teeth or have a dance party before they get into bed.
  • Do some deep breathing exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and give your child a sense of control over their emotions.
  • Create a reward system: Offer rewards for completing bedtime activities in a timely and orderly fashion.
  • Make it interactive: Set up an obstacle course that they have to navigate before getting into bed.
  • Pick out cozy clothing: Allow them to choose their own pajamas or other comfortable sleepwear that is soft and breathable.
  • Aromatherapy is a great way to help your baby relax. Use calming essential oils or incorporate items like bedtime lotions or sprays into the routine.
  • Create a visual reminder: For younger children, you may want to create a chart that outlines each step in their bedtime routine.
  • Play relaxing music: Soft music can help your child relax before bedtime and get them in the right frame of mind.
  • Have them write in a gratitude journal: For older children, writing down things that they are thankful for can be calming and reflective.
  • Connect with nature: Taking a few moments to look out the window and observe nature can help your child unwind.
  • Have a conversation: Set aside some time each night to share stories and talk with your child. This helps create an emotional bond between you and them, which can make bedtime easier for both of you.

These are just some ideas to help you make your child’s bedtime routine more fun and enjoyable. It’s important to focus on communication and positive reinforcement so that your child can look forward to going to bed each night. With consistency and patience, your family will soon be snuggled up for a good night’s sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Creating a consistent bedtime routine is essential for your child’s physical and emotional well-being. Establishing healthy sleep habits early on can help them develop positive patterns that will carry them through their life.

With the right combination of structure and flexibility, you can create an environment that promotes good rest and relaxation so that your child can grow up healthy and happy (and so that you can get your well-deserved rest, too!).

Need some bedtime story inspiration? Choose from one of these “Epic Books for Kids.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good nighttime routine for kids?

bedtime routine for kids should include activities that help them relax and get ready for sleep. Changing into PJs, brushing teeth, and reading a story, will help your child get the rest they need. 

What is a good bedtime routine for an 8-year-old?

It’s important to balance structure and flexibility with a bedtime routine for kids around age eight. Include a lullaby, talking about what tomorrow holds, and offering cuddles before closing the door. 

What should a 12-year-old bedtime schedule be?

Preteens will have more independent needs and bedtime routines. Encourage them to start their routine about 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off screens, and pick a calming activity from an Adventures from Scratch book.

Is it good to have a bedtime routine?

Yes, it’s important to create a consistent bedtime routine for kids. Establishing healthy sleep habits can help them develop positive patterns that will promote a healthy lifestyle. 

What are the pros and cons of letting kids stay up late?

The positives of having a bedtime routine for kids is that it creates structure while allowing some flexibility in activities that will help them relax and get ready for better sleep.

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