About Books Before Bedtime
An example of a step-by-step bedtime routine
- 1. Active kids = sleepy kids.
Children who get ample daily exercise tend to fall asleep quicker, sleep better and longer, and wake up feeling refreshed. Exercise is stimulating however, so avoid activity in the hour before bedtime.Avoid giving your children drinks with caffeine, including chocolate and soft drinks, especially from the afternoon onwards.
- 2. Give your child 5 to 10 minutes notice before their bedtime routine begins.
This allows any current activity to be finished and for your child to settle down.
- 3. Bath-time is an important aspect of the bedtime ritual, and you should allow time for it when it suits your individual nightly schedule.
Sitting in warm water is a soothing experience, and getting your child warm, clean and dry is a great way to ease them into bedtime. A bath is also a wonderful way for you to spend some special time with your child.
- 4. Time to say goodnight.
Many children enjoy going around the room or the house and saying goodnight to favourite toys, people and pets. Make sure you know when to say enough, though: if your toddler insists on saying goodnight to every single stuffed toy in his bedroom, it's a safe bet he's trying to put off bedtime a little longer!
- 5. Make sure your child is comfortable.
Try to make sure all needs have been attended to before bedtime so there is no reason to get out of bed. Your child may like to have a night-light on, the door slightly open, or a drink of water. Some children find it comforting to sleep with a favorite item, such as a stuffed animal or blanket. Check the temperature in your child's room, and make sure clothes do not restrict movement.
- 6. Have a chat to your children.
Bedtime is a nice chance for children and their parents to spend some time talking to each other. You could discuss your day and ask your child to tell you about the best and worst things that happened to them, as well as anything that's worrying them. This may help work through any anxieties or fears they are harbouring and allow a better night's sleep.
- 7. Read a bedtime story.
Not only will your toddler learn new words but they will also benefit from the time spent with you. Children listening to a parent read a book will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy. For a toddler, choosing a bedtime story can provide a chance to assert some control over the nightly routine. This may mean you have to read the same story for a week or so, but it makes them feel important being able to pick their own book. Check out our suggested bedtime stories here
- 8. Finish with a cuddle and a kiss, and then leave the room while your child is still awake so they learn to settle themselves.
Try not to return to your child's room each time they call out. If you give in to bedtime requests, they will learn that bedtime is not really bedtime.
"Children generally find comfort and security in bedtime rituals. A consistent good routine is the key to a good night’s sleep."
South Australian Children, Youth and Women's Health Service (CYWHS)