Children's bedtime routine tips

It will come as no surprise that sleep, a parent's desire for, and a child's resistance to, is one of the most frequent causes of frustration for parents with young children. To enable you to get a much needed rest, and to ensure your child gets the sleep they require to make the most of the following day, developing a bedtime routine for your child is very important.

Lack of sleep can impair a child's learning by impacting on their memory, concentration and focus. The amount of sleep children require varies according to age, but experts recommend children get up to 12 hours of sleep a night, to ensure they maximise the day ahead.

A regular bedtime routine can really help your child wind down and get their body clock in tune with the desired sleeping pattern; a routine teaches the brain to become familiar with time for going to sleep and time for waking up. This summer, particularly in the weeks leading up to the new school term, why not try a few of the tips below to enforce these sleeping habits, so your child can become accustomed to this new routine before the start of the new school year.

Time for bed is of course up to the discretion of the parents, though the Supernanny website recommends that a child's bedtime should be between 7pm and 7.30pm for children up to the ages of four and five and between 8pm and 9pm for children up to the ages of 10 to 12.

Certified Parent Coach Jennifer Wolf offers the following dos and don'ts when developing a bedtime routine for children.

Do:

  • Spend time unwinding with a quiet activity 30 minutes before starting the bedtime routine.

  • Be consistent. The routine should be the same night-to-night, so your child learns to anticipate sleep as part of the routine.

  • Include bath time in your regular routine, as the soothing warmth will help prepare your child's body for rest.

  • Make reading together part of the bedtime routine.

  • Leave the room while your child is still awake.

  • Allow soft music or a nightlight.

  • Remain calm when your child calls for you.

  • Reassure your child you will come back and check on him or her during the night.


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Don't:

  • Make TV part of the bedtime routine.

  • Offer caffeinated drinks with dinner.

  • Allow frequent interruptions to the evening routine.

  • Make lying down together or rocking your child to sleep a regular part of your evening routine.

  • Pick your child up if he or she continues to call for you or fights going to sleep. Instead, simply reassure him or her that you're nearby.


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