A consistent bedtime routine should be the cornerstone of your Family Routine. Your child’s development will benefit from a daily 11 to 12 hours of sleep, and it’s vital for your relationship that you and your partner have time to yourselves, too.
Setting up a bedtime routine
We recommend that bedtime should be between 7pm and 7.30pm for children up to age of four or five, then range between 8pm and 9pm for children up to age 10 or 12. Follow these steps to set up a bedtime routine which should last about half an hour.
- Encourage calm time before bedtime, with activities like reading and quiet play rather than leaping around or competitive games.
- Remind your child that “in five minutes it’s bedtime.”
- Make sure you’ve checked through schoolbags with older children so nothing important is left for the morning.
- Start off your child’s routine with a relaxing bath. Older children can help give their younger sibling(s) a wash.
- Use gentle reminders of what’s coming next while she washes and gets dressed, for example: “In two minutes we’ll get you out of the bath so you can brush your teeth” and “Once you’ve brushed your teeth we’ll put your nightdress on.” Try to avoid checking your watch or hurrying things along; keep your tone calm.
- In bed, keep the lights low. Read a story and maybe chat over the day; try telling your child about something they did that pleased you, to reassure her and will send her to sleep on a positive note.
- A kiss and a cuddle and you can put the lights out. If your child is scared of the dark, use a nightlight or leave a light on in the hall.
If you have more than one child, stagger their bedtimes so they each benefit from a calming story and goodnight cuddle from you or your partner – changing roles in the bedtime routine will encourage trust and give you both some alone-time with each child.