Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

It doesn’t matter what age your child is, they could be attending daycare or an early learning center or older and at high school, it’s crucial to have good bedtime rituals and routines in order to promote good sleeping habits.

What are bedtime rituals?

A bedtime ritual consists of all the things that you do with your child before you put them down to sleep. For example bath time, getting ready for bed, brushing teeth or reading a bedtime story. The overall aim of a good bedtime ritual is to get your child used to falling asleep on her/his own. The reason for this is in case your child wakes up at some point during the night, they are able to get back to sleep with no help.

Rituals – Do’s and Don’ts

There is no one size fits all when it comes to a bedtime routine. One child might like to hear a bedtime story each evening and another child may prefer to have a conversation with you about their day. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your child easily falls asleep and stays asleep all night to ensure a good night’s rest. There are some positive things that you can incorporate into your bedtime ritual:

  • Start a bedtime routine from as young as possible. It’s easier to do this than try to start on when your child is a toddler or of preschool age.
  • Make sure you’re consistent with your bedtime ritual. Although the routine may change as your child ages, it still needs to remain as consistent as possible. By this, we mean your bedtime ritual needs to follow a specific order.
  • Make sure your bedtime ritual is age appropriate and you take into account that it may change as your child ages.
  • Keep your bedtime rituals nice and short. i.e. it shouldn’t last any longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Don’t think that some crying is an issue. It’s perfectly normal for a young child to cry for a few minutes whilst they are settling down to sleep.
  • Use a security object as part of a bedtime ritual if necessary, for example, a blanket or a soft toy. Young children in particular like this and it can become a crucial part of a stress free and happy bedtime routine.
  • Use a night light if necessary as kids don’t tend to like sleeping in the dark.

There are also things that you need to avoid when it comes to a bedtime ritual:

  • Avoid any activities that are stimulating i.e. screen time before a bedtime routine.
  • Don’t think a child can grow out of a poor bedtime ritual. Children who have sleep issues from young will continue to have poor sleep until something is been done about it.
  • Avoid techniques such as stroking your child’s back until they fall asleep etc as these are poor sleep associations.
  • Do not allow your child to eat anything that has caffeine in it before bed. Bear in mind that caffeine is not just found in tea and fizzy drinks, it is also used in other foods such as chocolate.