How to build a successful nighttime routine with your child
Sleep is one of the most discussed topics amongst parents. It can almost become a competition to see whose child can sleep the longest, and if they manage to sleep the whole night through, you can practically hear the victory parade.
Then there’s the reality that some of us don’t want to face. You know, the one where you have the child who wakes consistently through the night well past toddlerdom or the screaming newborn won’t settle.
When a lack of sleep affects the whole household, the importance of a good bedtime routine becomes vital. Read on to see how you can build a successful nighttime routine with your child:
Be consistent and set boundaries
Throughout your life, there are a set of expectations that come at each stage. For example, as a child, you are expected to attend school throughout your formative years. You arrive at a specific time in the morning, you eat at the set lunch hour, and you are picked up at the end of the day within a particular timeframe. This carries on into adulthood with work, appointments and deadlines.
Bedtime is no different. Setting up a consistent nighttime routine, where you cover all of the essentials such as brushing teeth, having a bath and getting into clean pyjamas all within a fixed time scale, will encourage your child to be prepared mentally for bedtime. With a routine in place, your child will quickly get used to what is expected of them.
Include dental hygiene
It’s never too early to start a daily oral hygiene routine with your child. Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, their gums can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria if left unattended.
From the moment milk – breast or formula – enters your baby’s mouth, sugary deposits wash over their gums. Fortunately, you can gently wipe thor gums with a fresh, clean cloth or specially formulated dental wipe to remove unwanted bacteria. That way, you are encouraging healthy gums for your wee one’s milk teeth to grow.
With such a wide selection of kids toothbrushes to choose from, such as baby electric toothbrushes to character designs and flashing timers, your child will want to get involved.
Offer some choices
Any routine you set up for your child is a framework that you are in control of. However, there are a few things you can do to encourage your child’s independence along the way:
- Let them choose a book
- Offer a small selection of pyjamas
- Encourage them to tell you about their day so they can unwind before bed.
Small acts of freedom will allow your child to feel more confident and trusted.
Encourage play during the day
Your child’s bedroom can become a daunting place. Whether they have an active imagination, have a fear of the dark or struggle without you nearby, encouraging your child to play in their room can help them to feel more secure as they sleep.
Additionally, as they develop and grow older, let them make some of the stylistic choices. If that’s buying a T-Rex nightlight, a princess bedspread or painting the walls green, appealing to your child’s likes will make them feel like their room is their own safe space.
The magic of bathtime
Successful routines all come down to several factors, and one of those is an effective bathtime.
Plus, science has spoken and having a bath before bed not only relaxes your body and mind, but the hot water encourages your body temperature to drop when you get out of the tub. The lower your child’s body temperature before bedtime, the more likely they will sleep better.
For those with more sensitive or eczema-prone skin, too many baths may harm your child’s overall health. Itchy, dry skin throughout the night is undeniably not a recipe for good sleep. So make sure you apply any necessary creams and emollients before bed, and try and use specially formulated bath products where possible.
Don’t neglect storytime
Sometimes overlooked, setting aside a part of your child’s day to read stories not only enhances their understanding of the world but encourages their speech and language development too. What’s more, reading to your child is a shared experience, where you can get lost in a different world together, all while snuggling up before bed.
The soothing sounds of your voice just before sleep will also help your child to feel more relaxed as they drift off to sleep.
Take time to reflect
Have you ever stopped to think how much better you feel after having a good chat with a friend? Your burdens are lighter, and you can get someone else’s perspective on the challenges you face. Now think about your child. How often do you set aside a part of the day to chat things through together?
Establishing time in your day to let your child tell you about their day is instrumental to a successful nighttime routine. Their activities at nursery or school to the discoveries they have made or sad moments they have encountered need to be addressed. They may even want to know about your day. So share away.
Don’t forget the toilet
There’s nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night, busting for the toilet. It can really impact how well your child goes back to sleep and leave them feeling unsettled for the rest of the night.
Whether you need to change a nappy or encourage your child to use the potty or toilet before bed will help give them an uninterrupted night sleep. Plus, having time for the toilet as part of your child’s routine will help them develop better control of their bladder and allow them to go for longer stretches of time without needing the toilet.
Building a successful nighttime routine with your child doesn’t have to be challenging. Setting up the right boundaries that work for your whole family and encouraging independence will set your child up for life.