Tips and tricks for a peaceful nighttime routine.
“Can I have one more story?” If you’re a parent, that innocent plea might sound familiar. The moments before bedtime can be a sweet bonding time, offering a chance to reflect on the day and prepare for tomorrow.
A solid bedtime routine can help your kids wind down and enjoy a great night’s rest. Establishing positive habits now can help everyone in the family get the sleep they need. When you establish one that works, bedtime becomes less of a chore and more of a special time for making memories. Today, we’re sharing 10 ways you can make the most of this time together, starting tonight.
1. Set a schedule early.
It might be difficult, but try to establish and stick to regular bedtime and wake-up times for the whole family, even on weekends.
Like their parents, kids have a circadian rhythm based on their natural sleep/wake cycle. When this cycle gets out of sync, it can affect the quality and quantity of their sleep. While it might sound enticing to sleep late on a Saturday, it can push everything else back. Suddenly, it’s 10:00 p.m. and everyone’s still wide awake.
Wondering if your child is getting enough rest? Affirmative signs include falling asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, no daytime drowsiness, and easy wake-ups.
2. Stick to a routine.
They might be free spirits, but the reality is that most kids thrive on a routine. When their days are ordered by regular schedules, it provides a comforting sense of security and boosts their social-emotional health. Keeping this in mind, aim for the same bedtime routine every night. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to read the same fairy tales over and over again!
While the structure of events should remain the same, there is room for a little variation; however, the order in which these events occur shouldn’t shift too much from night-to-night. Before long, you’ll notice that the very act of initiating the bedtime routine can trigger your child to become sleepy as they learn to associate their bedroom with a calming turn-down ritual.
3. Take care of personal hygiene.
There isn’t an exact routine that fits every family’s needs, however, your bedtime routine should include time for your child to attend to personal hygiene. For some, this means a warm, nightly bath. Others might prefer to wash faces and hands only, saving more thorough scrub-downs for every other day or so.
Either way, set aside some time for your children to wash up and put on clean pajamas. Research shows that being around water naturally calms children, reduces anxiety, and can even help them sleep better.
4. Remember to brush and floss.
Of course, any bedtime routine would be incomplete without dedicated time for brushing and flossing! Throughout the day, food and bacteria can accumulate on and between your child’s teeth and, if left there, can cause problems down the track.
Set a fun timer and brush for two minutes to gently cleanse their mouth. If they’re still little, they may not have the dexterity required to maneuver their brush properly, so they’ll need some help from you. Then, don’t forget to floss your kids teeth gently.
5. Set the right environment.
Just like adults, children sleep best when their room is quiet, dark, and a little cool. While the specific recommended temperature is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, stick with what feels comfortable and avoid fluctuating the temperature too much.
Dress your little one in lightweight, comfy pajamas, keeping in mind that they may inadvertently kick off the covers at night. If they’re big enough for a bed, you can add blankets to help them regulate their own temperature.
6. Add a little calm.
To help set the stage for sleep in your bedtime routine, you may want to play a white noise machine, turn on a nightlight for security, or even diffuse some calming essential oils in scents like lavender and rose. Try to set this comfy environment before your kids actually hop into the bed. Then, by the time their head hits the pillow, they’ll be well on their way to dreamland.
7. Read a bedtime story.
For centuries, bedtime stories have helped calm children while engaging their sense of wonder. From classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes to longer chapter books, the stories you read with your little ones will change throughout the years.
Still, this is a beautiful and sweet tradition that you’ll find yourself looking forward to as much as they do! Looking for a few titles for your bedtime routine that the whole crew can enjoy? Check out our list of 16 entertaining, family-friendly books for school-age kids!
8. Add a security object.
Whether your child is two or 12, they might feel a little apprehensive about going to sleep on their own. To them, bedtime might feel like separation, and that can be a little unnerving.
In that case, a security object, such as a blanket or a beloved stuffed animal, can offer comfort and reassurance. Why not bring their teddy bear into the bathroom and brush their teeth too? This is a great way to help instill healthy dental habits at an early age!
9. Reflect and talk.
No, you don’t need to launch into dissertations right before bedtime. Your children may view lengthy conversations as opportunities to stall and elaborate just to stay up longer! However, it’s important to take a little time to reflect on the day. A short but sweet way to do so is to play the “Rose, Thorn, Bud” game. The rose represents the best part of your day, while the thorn signifies the most challenging or difficult part. Then, the bud is what you’re most looking forward to tomorrow!
Share these sentiments with one another, and it will become a tradition you all cherish.
10. Anticipate last requests.
One way to keep bedtime from stretching out way longer than it should be? Help avoid last-minute requests for more water, bathroom breaks, or a snack by heading them off at the pass.
Before your child gets into bed for the night, ask if they need to use the bathroom or get a sip of water. If you allow a small, healthy snack, be sure to do it before brushing teeth. This way, once they’re all tucked in, they should be snug and secure.
Cherish memories made at bedtime.
When you’re smack in the middle of parenting, bedtime might feel like a never-ending task. However, this season is short and incredibly special, and it’s important to create a routine that everyone loves.
These 10 tips can help you make the last few moments of your child’s day comforting, relaxing, and restorative. A great night’s rest equals a vibrant, focused morning—and we could all use that! Along the way, we’re here for your family. We adore our pint-sized patients and love keeping your teeth and gums healthy! Request an appointment today—we look forward to seeing you.