What is it about the word bedtime that sends most kids into an energetic frenzy? Even if they’re exhausted they refuse to give up on the day and slumber into a new one. Research shows that kids who experience disrupted or not enough sleep are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety when they are older. With this in mind here’s a few ways you can develop a good bedtime routine with your kids.
Enjoy a calming activity together
It’s not as simple as tuck in the covers and turn out the light. Even with the world’s most comfortable children’s bed, they’ll need some quality time with you to feel safe and sleepy. Read a book or listen to soft music to get them feeling restful. But don’t let this activity last too long - they can’t guilt you into staying awake past their bedtime.
Anticipate their needs
Some kids will use anything to get out of going to sleep; mummy I’m thirsty, daddy it’s too dark, or too cold and lonely. Anticipate your child’s needs and use cute children’s furniture - like a matching bedside table - to solve any and all qualms. Have a glass of water handy, a nightlight at the ready and a favourite soft toy for cuddles waiting next to their bed so they don’t have a reason to get out of bed.
The specialist opinion
Amanda Bude is an Advanced Sleep Specialist from Groovy Babies. She knows the importance of a good sleep routine for children and how it benefits both parent and child. Here’s what she had to say about bedtime routines:
“Children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night wakings, and increased sleep duration.
Irregular bedtimes interrupt a child's normal, 24-hour circadian patterns and therefore disrupt a child’s physical and mental functioning. Children who have inconsistent bedtimes often also get less and lower quality sleep, which can interfere with brain development, creating effects that can last into later life.
A soothing bedtime routine signals the body and brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. The tone of bedtime should be calm, quiet and reassuring as you prepare your child to separate from you all night.
Think about creating your own unique bedtime ritual which a parent and child share for years to come: a special song, sharing two things you liked about your day, reading aloud, prayers, blessings or sending kisses and love to others.
Done right, bedtime can be a special, loving time to celebrate closeness; a time for a child to look forward to and cherish.
If other caregivers take turns at bedtime, they don't have to follow an identical script but should have a similar routine, style, and response to any bedtime power plays, fears or stalling.
Make a regular bedtime part of your everyday and your whole family can enjoy the benefits of quality sleep. And you’ll find those rare occasions when you stay up late to be extra special in comparison.