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The A-Z of an effective bedtime routine

Growth & Development / Oct 28, 2022 / Vetted by S Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
The A-Z of an effective bedtime routine

Parents know the struggle of putting their children to sleep. They often get frustrated by the number of attempts it takes for their child to get into bed. Kids are always curious and feel that they might miss out on something if they shut their eyes. They constantly want to explore everything around them. It is highly advised to have a night-time routine for your child's growth and development.

When should my baby sleep at night?

Children between one and three years of age need to sleep at least 10–12 hours at night and one–two hours during the daytime. To ensure that your child gets enough sleep at night, do not allow them to nap for more than two hours during the day and let them have an early dinner. This will allow you to get your child to sleep early.

When preparing your child for bed, you will need to establish a bedtime routine, which is a set list of activities that are done in the hour before your child falls asleep. Starting these activities will help your child understand that it is time for bed.

What are the benefits of setting a bedtime routine?

Having a consistent bedtime routine is good for a child's sleep and has other positive effects as well, such as:
  • Earlier bedtime
  • Less time is needed to fall asleep
  • Fewer night-time awakenings
  • Decreased resistance to falling asleep
  • Longer duration of sleep for both the child and the parent
  • Better quality of sleep for the child and parent
  • Positive mood of the child throughout the day
  • Bathing and brushing teeth before bedtime promote self-care and healthy habits
  • Reading or singing lullabies at bedtime facilitates early learning
  • Reading at bedtime enhances early language development and school-readiness
  • Physical contact with your child, like cuddling and massage, increase feelings of security

What does a good bedtime routine include?

Bedtime should be a positive experience for your child. An effective bedtime routine can include:
  • Having a light snack
  • Brushing teeth and having a bath
  • Wearing a nightdress
  • Reading a story
  • Quiet room with a comfortable temperature
  • Tucking your child in and saying "good night"

My child does not want to sleep; what do I do? -Tips for setting a good routine

Your child's sleep schedule will change as they grow older. A four-month-old to one-year-old baby requires 12–16 hours of sleep per day; a toddler aged one to two years needs 11–14 hours of sleep per day; and a child aged three to five years needs 10–13 hours of sleep per day. This sleep can be split up into daytime naps and night-time sleep. By about 18 months of age, a child needs only one nap a day. Make sure the nap isn't too close to bedtime.

A few tips for setting a good routine bedtime for your child:

  • Have fixed bedtimes and wake-up times every day. Consistent bedtimes allow your child to get sufficient sleep.
  • Turn off the lights and use dim night lamps 30 minutes to one hour before the actual bedtime. Use this time for some calming activities such as taking a bath, applying lotion, allowing your child to choose his/her night-time clothes and a stuffed toy to fall asleep with, reading stories, or saying prayers.
  • Ensure that the bedroom is cool, quiet, and comfortable for sleeping. You can play some soft music.
  • Avoid television or any sort of screen time (e.g., mobile phone) in the bedroom. This may stimulate the child and delay or disrupt sleep.
  • Try to tuck your child in bed when he/she is awake but sleepy. This will help the child get used to falling asleep independently.
  • Do not forget to praise your children every time they follow the rules for bedtime activities and sleeping. However, do not punish them or dwell on any negative behaviour.

Remember that developing a habit takes time. Explain the bedtime routine to your child calmly. This can be difficult at first, but if you are consistent, your child will adapt to the other children's daily routine schedule. A child refusing to sleep may also indicate that he or she is worried or stressed and requires comfort. If your child has any sleep issues, such as difficulty breathing, snoring or noisy breathing, or recurring nightmares, consult a paediatrician.

Looking for all things baby health? Head to BabyG App to get complete access to 1000+ Development Activities, Milestones and Growth Reports, Meal Plans, Recipes, Bedtime Stories, Tips and a global Community of likeminded parents.

 

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Tips to help your toddler sleep and stay in bed. [2020]
  2. Raising Children Network. Toddler sleep: what to expect. [2020]
  3. Zero to three. Common Myths about baby sleep challenges [2021]
  4. Blake A, Gable S, Schramm D. Sleep soundly: How to establish good sleep habits for your children [2021]
  5. CDC. How much sleep do i need? [2021]
  6. MedlinePlus. Bedtime Habits for infants and children [2018]
  7. Cleveland Clinic. How much sleep your kids need. [2020]

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