Healthy Bedtime Routines for Infants and Children

Keeping healthy routines helps to organize your day to maximize your potential. A healthy bedtime routine winds down the mind and body for quality restorative sleep. Babies, infants and toddlers have abundant energy and would happily stay awake all night if you let them. Young children need a good bedtime routine to maintain health and energy, especially when going through an important developmental stage and learning new skills and information.  

Your child’s bedtime ought to contain sleep routines that soothe and calm the child for sleep

What are the Benefits of a Positive Bedtime Routine for Babies and Children?

Your child’s bedtime ought to contain sleep routines that soothe and calm the child for sleep. These routines can form the basis of a healthy bedtime routine for life. A night of uninterrupted sleep is vital for children’s cognitive development, it aids learning, problem-solving skills, and boosts immune response. A night of poor sleep quality can leave a child disobedient, cranky, and unable to focus in school. A good bedtime routine gives the child more energy to have fun, learn new things, and help out at home when needed. Kids love to be helpful, but not so much when feeling cranky from a bad night’s rest.    

A bedtime routine for infants and children involves winding down well for at least 30 minutes before bed each night

What is a Bedtime Routine for Children?     

A bedtime routine for infants and children involves winding down well for at least 30 minutes before bed each night. Having set a bedtime hour that is consistent every night, activities for a good bedtime routine for children involve a bath, brushing teeth, putting pajamas on, and reading a bedtime story. Night lights and a stuffed animal can comfort your child and help them sleep better at night. A wind-down well ritual alerts the child’s circadian rhythm for sleep.  

The Best Bedtime Routine for Children

The best Bedtime Routines for Babies

Babies are all about sleep and food so it comes as no surprise that putting a baby down for the night involves feeding and snuggles. A nighttime bath and baby massage is the perfect soothing bedtime ritual for babies. After their feed, sit on the couch or rocking chair to read them a story or sing some lullabies. Babies are sponges for information, keeping a consistent healthy bedtime routine will set them up for a lifetime of good quality sleep and the ability to handle stress as they have learned routines to unwind and sleep. 

  • Put the baby to sleep on their back for the first year of life
  • Keep the crib clear of toys and unnecessary blankets and pillows, a bare crib is safer 
  • Put the baby in a sleep sack to prevent overheating 
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding the use of baby monitors and other devices as they may not be effective in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 
  • Keep the baby in your bedroom for the first 6 months or year, sleeping in a crib or bassinet     

The Best Bedtime Routine for Toddlers 

If your toddler did not take to a set bedtime routine when they were a baby, no need to worry as you still have time to create a routine they will love because toddlers crave routine. Feeling safe and secure stems from knowing what comes next, stability in a toddler’s life can aid their quality of sleep, cognitive skills, and helps them reach their developmental milestones.

Toddlers sleep begins with a wind-down well ritual similar to a baby’s. Toddler routines include bathtime, bedtime stories or lullabies, brushing teeth, and clean pajamas. An overtired toddler will run rings around you so it is best to begin your toddlers sleep routine when you notice them yawning and rubbing their eyes. Bedtime rituals ought to take up to one hour only. 

  • A warm nighttime bath is soothing but be mindful of what bath toys they play with as you do not want them to get too rambunctious before bed. Instead, sing songs, or have a chat about their day.   
  • Toddlers love to feel like they have choices so offer them a choice of two pajamas
  • Some toddlers can be fussy eaters which means almost empty tummies at bedtime, a small nighttime snack of milk and oatmeal cookies, yogurt, or crackers can keep the tummy rumbles at bay and aid a restful night’s sleep. 
  • Brushing teeth before bed, especially after a bedtime snack is important to keep your toddler’s mouth free from bacteria
  • Reading bedtime stores could be the only prolonged snuggle time you get as a lot of toddlers prefer to run around and play all day, allow them a choice of storybooks or listen to some lullabies for bedtime relaxation 
  • Turn on the night lights and put their favorite stuffed animal under the covers with them   

Why Bedtime Routines are Important for Parents and Children

Healthy sleep routines are crucial for a child’s development and sleep quality. A nighttime ritual is a time for your child to unwind, can aid bonding, and create a sense of stability and routine that children need to feel safe and secure. Healthy bedtime routines are equally important for adults, it fosters boundaries for child and adult wake times, puts the parent or guardian in control, and supports a positive authoritative parenting style.

Healthy bedtime routines have been shown to improve the child’s executive function, working memory, cognitive flexibility, dental health, and higher readiness for school than those with a suboptimal bedtime routine. A consistent bedtime routine allows the parents to enjoy some quality time with the child and with their partner.      

Tips to Perfect the Bedtime Routine

  • Be consistent with the bedtime routine, if deviating from the routine, keep your toddler informed as they will be more likely to cooperate if they know what is coming
  • Keep the routine to 20-60 minutes and make it age-appropriate
  • If the child is old enough, give them some choices on pajamas, storybook, and bath toys 
  • Remind the child to use the bathroom and never skip brushing teeth
  • Keep their bedroom dark but use a nightlight if they are afraid
  • A cuddly toy or security blanket can help children over one year old sleep better
  • Leave the room after you say goodnight, staying in the room until the child falls asleep can start a bad habit and best used when the child is unwell or is trying to fall back asleep after a bad dream

Things to Avoid

  • Strenuous games or hyperactive activity 
  • Allowing them to play video games or watch television before bed 
  • Having a TV or games console in the bedroom
  • Fizzy drinks or eating a large meal before bed  

Conclusion  

Sleep problems in children could impact their ability to learn in school, their behavior, their willingness to cooperate with their parents, and their mood. Good sleep health information starts with creating and sticking to a strict bedtime routine. It alerts the child to wind down time, promotes healthy sleep, and gives busy parents some wind-down time of their own. Healthy bedtime routines are best implemented as soon as possible but it is never too late to start healthy routines for better sleep, physical health, and mental wellbeing.