You can’t always count on a trip to the Down Under Adventure Zoo to get your little one tuckered out for the night. Typical weeknights require a ritual to help your little one unwind and prepare for their evening’s rest, physically and mentally. What is a good bedtime routine for kids and why is it important to a child?
The benefits go beyond giving overwrought parents a much-needed break at day’s end. The proper bedtime routine for kids teaches them a valuable life skill — how to honor their body’s need for rest and create an environment conducive to it.
Quality sleep matters to your child’s development. What should you do? Here’s what it actually means to establish a bedtime routine for your child.
Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important for a Child?
Bedtime routines matter to children because they instill a healthy habit for life. How many adults do you know who toss and turn, perhaps turning to unhealthy methods like the bottle to get shuteye and ironically lowering their chances of quality rest? Winding down for the evening is something you can learn and teaching this skill to your children when they’re young helps decrease their sleepless nights for life.
Quality rest is vital to child development. A bedtime routine is essential for a child because inadequate rest can lead to the following adverse effects:
- Increased allergic rhinitis: More sniffles.
- Immune system problems: More frequent colds.
- Anxiety and depression: They strike children, too.
- Elevated cardiovascular health risks: Including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Furthermore, a lack of sleep hinders academic performance, resulting in poor grades. In adolescents, the problem becomes more severe as teen drivers take to the road. Inadequate rest at this age becomes a public health risk, so please instill good habits in your children when they are young.
8 Steps to a Bedtime Routine for Kids
What’s the best bedtime routine for kids? Here are eight suggested steps to get your littles ready for shuteye.
1. Shift to Quieter Activities
Approximately one to two hours before bedtime, begin downshifting to quieter activities. For example, your children might work on light homework like a reading assignment or help clean up the dinner dishes.
It’s okay to watch a little TV — especially if you do so as a family, selecting quality programming and looking for gentle teachable moments to instill values like sharing, patience, and acceptance. For example, shows like “Chopped Junior” are equally fun for kids and adults because they feature cooking and chefs little ones can relate to, but they also teach perseverance and good sportsmanship.
2. Power Down
However, you want to shut off electronic devices — including televisions — approximately 30 minutes before lights out. That’s because the blue light from such screens mimics the wavelength put out by the sun, telling you it’s time to wake up, not rest.
Electronics aren’t the greatest for adults, either. One fabulous idea is to create a charging station in your kitchen or living area where everyone in the family plugs their gadgets in for the night. Of course, you can always grab your tablet after the kiddos fall asleep, but it wouldn’t hurt you to unplug as well!
3. Get Comfy
Pajamas are an important part of a bedtime routine for kids. They create a mental separation between the daytime hours for school and fun, and those dedicated to quiet rest.
Let your child select their favorite pajamas. Some kids have sensory issues that can make sleep impossible if they find a garment too restrictive or itchy.
4. Tend to Personal Hygiene
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good dental hygiene and the scrub you give your teeth before bed matters the most. That’s because you produce less saliva overnight, letting bacteria accumulate on your enamel, decaying it and causing cavities.
Neglecting your teeth can have severe health consequences. Researchers associate the same oral bacteria that causes gum disease with increased cardiovascular and dementia risk.
Therefore, have your kids do a complete oral hygiene routine before bed, including flossing and rinsing. Consider a water pick if your child resists typical floss because of the “owie” factor. Most kids have a blast with them.
5. Have a Bedtime Story
Nurturing a secure attachment in your child is perhaps even more important than oral hygiene. An insecure attachment style can haunt them for life, causing difficulties in work and relationships as they learn ineffective ways of relating and responding to others.
The simple bedtime routine of a story creates necessary consistency in your child’s life. They know they can count on this little ritual to feel close to you — and you are the world to them. Your children can flourish when they believe they can love and rely on you.
6. Establish Comfort
Many kids love the comfort of a favorite stuffed toy or blanket at bedtime. Indulge this need for them to feel secure. If they want a nightlight, satisfy them, but pick a dim LED in a warm amber tone that won’t upset their sleep cycles.
7. A Little Mindfulness
Spending a few minutes in mindfulness is a bedtime routine people of all ages benefit from. It’s vital to take time to think without judgment, process the day’s experiences and make peace with how to do better tomorrow. Buddhists often do so by taking the last few moments of their day to reflect on their actions over the past 24 hours, gently considering how they can do better to live in alignment with their values, but people of any faith also reap the rewards.
Depending on your belief system, you might have your child recite a small prayer where they speak their innermost thoughts to God. It’s usually easy to identify if something is still bothering your little one before they fall asleep — use this quiet time to talk it through with them.
8. Lights Out
Finally, it’s time for lights out. Ensure your child is tucked in comfortably with everything they need, including a cup of water. Kiss their forehead and bid them sweet dreams.
Establishing a Bedtime Routine for Your Child
Why is a bedtime routine important for a child? It teaches them how to gently unwind from their day and prepare for rest — a valuable life skill.
Follow these eight steps to designing the ideal bedtime routine for your kids. You’ll sleep easier knowing they’re getting the rest they need.