By Marissa Palmer, MSW, LSW, DT
Who needs a bedtime routine?
After a full day of playdates, climbing on furniture, sloppy mealtimes, and energetic chatting, who needs help to fall asleep? The answer is everyone. You’ve probably created a routine for yourself without realizing it. Do you typically brush your teeth, check Facebook one last time, watch a favorite show, and kiss your partner goodnight? Knowing what to expect allows your body to relax and prepare for a successful night of sleep. Let’s create a routine for your child as well!
How do I construct a bedtime routine?
1.) Think about what you already do with your child at night. Do you typically have bath time, read a book, brush teeth, or sing a song?
2.) Jot down 4-5 ideas of activities you’d like to include in your schedule.
3.) Reflect on your child’s current bedtime. Does he start rubbing his eyes at 8:00pm? Is he staying up until 10:30pm while jumping on his bed? Start the routine approximately 30 minutes before your ideal bedtime. If you want lights out at 8:00pm, begin at 7:30pm. Please refer to the sleep chart for the appropriate amount of evening sleep for your toddler.
4.) Choose 3 or 4 of the activities you wrote down and put them in an order that makes sense for you and your family, along with what time you would like it to occur. For example:
7:45pm: Brush teeth
7:50pm: Read a book
7:58pm: Sing the bedtime song
5.) Document your schedule, place it somewhere visible, and follow the routine!
I did it! Anything else I should know?
Consistency is key. By sticking to the routine, your child will quickly learn the schedule and begin to thrive at his or her own bedtime! Children are comforted by boundaries and consistent expectations. The more you follow your own schedule, the more successful it will be.
Imitate nature in your own home. Keep the lights dimmed, the sounds soothing, and electronics to a minimum. Lights from phones, televisions, and computer screens have been shown to disrupt sleep in children and adults.
If you continue to struggle with your child’s sleep, consult your child’s pediatrician or contact the team of Social Workers at Playworks Therapy, Inc.