All about sleep: Bedtime Routines for Kids

Sleep is a natural part of kids' work, just as play is. They're letting their bodies grow, and their minds rest overnight. You wouldn't know it with some girls and boys, though – they can be a handful as bedtime approaches. If our minds are full of the cares of the day, it can feel like a double challenge as parents to bring peace to the house and ourselves. It can be done, though, and in a comfortable, straightforward way. Just turn to bedtime routines for kids to guide them, and watch the magic -- most of the time. 

Natural Rhythms and Adjusting to Schedules 

In your child's early years, you may find that she likes to stay up late, letting you spend extra time together in the evening. Perhaps this gives you a little time alone, though. Soon enough, you'll both be rising early to go to daycare, preschool, and other structured activities. Since kids definitely should not burn the candle at both ends, it's time to prepare for change and give yourself time as well. You'll need to move his bedtime earlier to give your child the best chance at being well rested, even tempered, focused and relaxed. 

Shifting Bedtime One Day at a Time 

There are three tricks which, used together, address most basic bedtime issues for children: 

  • Changing bedtime in increments 
  • Using light to adjust the body's sleep cycle 
  • Creating bedtime routines for kids to introduce sleep habits 

Shifting bedtime is only organizing your evenings so that bedtime comes 15 minutes earlier, making the shift twice a week. His internal clock will adjust to match. Light helps make the adjustment by affecting her hormones to achieve a similar end. Start the day with plenty of light, even if it's dark outside where you live. In the evening, start dimming the lights towards bedtime, shifting to peaceful activities and routines. 

The Power of Habits 

A nighttime ritual can include a warm bath and peaceful time together, or a bedtime story and tucking in for sleep. Sometimes this can seem like an impossibility, but have faith – habits are powerful, and the more you use your bedtime routine for kids, avoiding stimulating activities, the more success you'll have. 

Sell Sleep

If you're finding that trying to follow your bedtime rituals is itself getting too stimulating from resistance, get some "buy in" by letting her orchestrate the details: is it time for a story, or perhaps listening to soft music? Would he like to have something to drink and then start bedtime rituals, or go to the bedroom and then have a sip or two? Does she want to be tucked in tonight? It's classic salesmanship, selling bedtime as Henry Ford sold his cars with "any color, as long as it's black." 

Design in Bedtime 

When you create your child's bedroom, playroom, and other places that she'll be as bedtime approaches, you can design lighting that dims and provides localized light in the evening. Light emphasizing peaceful scenes or colors can help, also. His bedroom lighting can include the opposite for morning waking, lighting a colorful mural with special "daylight" light sources. A shared bedroom can have zones to let one child wake more slowly if needed. If you have a whole-house sound system or programmable bedroom sound, why not add music to relax or wake? 

Bedtime Routines for Kids Stay with Them

As your child learns that sleep comes in steps, she gains the power to relax as she grows. A glass of milk, a favorite book, and dimmed lights will someday let them find their own way to sleep.

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