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Getting that Bedtime Routine Down

Nearly all parents have been through it: A wonderful day with the toddler only to have it all go downhill when it comes to bedtime. That transition from day time to night time is sometimes overwhelming. A toddler doesn’t understand that playtime is over and that sleep is needed. This is where a bedtime routine can really help!

There are many benefits to having a routine. First of all, your toddler will know what to expect. There are no surprises that playtime is over and it’s time to go to sleep. This leads to less tantrums and less stress for parents.

So, what is a good bedtime routine to develop? What routine you choose should be what’s best for you and your child. There is no set plan that works for all children. The main idea is to start calming down, rather than keep the adrenaline running, and give the signs that bedtime is soon. Here are some tips that you could incorporate into a bedtime routine:

Have a bath

Oftentimes, a bath can be soothing. The warm water is relaxing and lots of night time bath products for children contain lavender, which also has a calming, relaxing effect. However, if your child does not like bath time or they get overly excited about it, then save this for another time.

Get brushing!

Break out the toothbrush and have a good brush of those teeth. It’s a great habit to get into anyways!

Break out the pyjamas

Put on a fresh diaper or encourage use of the potty before putting on underwear if you’re at the toilet training stage or already potty-trained. Then get changed into pyjamas. You may even want to enlist your toddler’s help in picking out some pyjamas, but if you have a lot to choose from, then maybe consider asking if they want “this or that?” rather than has a lot of choices, otherwise you may be there for a long time! This also gives your child some independence and a sense of individuality.

Quiet time

You don’t need to go to bed right away. In fact, it is better to have a quiet activity in the bedroom. This can be something as simple as playing patty-cake or peek-a-boo with the younger ones. Get some puppets or dolls and enact a favorite story. Put together a small puzzle. Try any activity that is quiet, not too messy, and doesn’t over-stimulate.

Story time

Story time with your child is invaluable. Not only is it good for bonding, but it builds vocabulary, comprehension skills, listening skills, and gets them ready for school. You may find yourself reading the same favorite story every night, and that’s ok. The repetition is good as it’s part of the learning process. Even young toddlers can learn from story time, even if you think they aren’t listening or understanding. They learn that reading is from left to right and that turning the page means that the story continues.

Talk about your day

Talking about your day will get your child excited for the next. Talk about your favorite things that happened that day and what to look forward to the next. It also helps with communication skills, listening, and expressing themselves using words.

What to avoid

Try to stay away from electronics like tablets, phones, video games, and television before bed. This stimulates the mind and makes it harder to fall asleep. This is true of both children and adults! Experts suggest turning off the electronics at least 30 minutes before bed time or even better, at least an hour before. It gives the brain a chance to switch to a calmer mode, reducing the effects that staring at bright lights has. Light reduces melatonin, the natural hormone that helps regulate sleep. Trying to go to sleep after playing video games or watching videos on a tablet might make it harder for your toddler to fall asleep since their brain is thinking it is still day time because of the bright, direct light.

In addition to electronics, any other stimulants should be avoided. This can be running around with siblings or arts and crafts. You may think this is just getting out all that energy, but it is keeping the brain stimulated and will make it difficult to relax for bed time.

The most important thing to realize is for a bedtime routine to work, it must be done every night. Even when on vacation, although the surroundings may be new and different, it is still good to have that routine. It will make bedtimes in new places easier.

Parents can gain a bit of sanity back with a bedtime routine. Get reassurance from the fact that after a while, your child will know what to expect, and your night times should run more smoothly with less tantrums.

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