Countdown to Bedtime: 7 Ways to Build a Good Routine

This is a collaborative post

Sleep is rarely far from any parent’s thoughts. It has become a big taboo, partly because your child’s sleep cycle is so much different from your own. But more than that, it’s the amount of quality sleep vs disrupted sleep that is impacting your whole household as a result! 

One of the most consistent themes to come out of all the decades of scientific research is that building a solid and boundaried sleep routine for your child not only makes bedtime easier but increases their quality of sleep too. 

So how do you build a good routine for your kid? Here are 7 handy tips to help you crack bedtime.

Stick to a consistent bedtime

Consistency, consistency, consistency! 

The trick to establishing a good routine is to stick to your boundaries so that there is no room for any arguments. That means sticking to the order you do things, e.g. dinner, bath, pyjamas, storytime, bed, so that your child knows what to expect.

Setting a regular bedtime for your child will not only help their body start to wind down for the occasion, but mentally they are more prepared to fall asleep too. 

It also helps you, as the parent or carer, to fit in all of your activities for the day, such as breakfast, nursery or school, reading, homework, dinner etc. (depending on your child’s age) so that bedtime is the moment you can all relax as a household. 

Don’t neglect toothbrushing

No matter how old your child is, baby to teen, they need to brush their teeth as much as you do as an adult. That’s a minimum of two minutes, twice a day. So if you divide that into first thing or just after breakfast in the morning and just before they go to bed, your child’s oral health will be set up for life. 

Building good habits as early as possible will help your child transition from babe to youth to adult. So start off small. 

For babies to 3 years:

  • Hidden under your baby’s gums are a whole set of pearly whites waiting to cut through. You can help prevent tooth decay in their early days by using a clean, damp cloth or specially formulated dental wipe to brush away any leftover milky sugars or food debris from their gums
  • Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as their first milk appears
  • Use a rice grain amount of toothpaste (fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1,000 ppm fluoride)
  • Don’t let your child eat the toothpaste!

Ages 3 to 6 years

  • All of the above
  • Don’t use more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste
  • Only spit after brushing, don’t rinse as this will remove that all-important enamel-strengthening fluoride!

Ages 7 years+

  • All of the above
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride (check label)
  • Although your child may be able to brush their teeth well, make sure you still supervise them to ensure they do it properly!

To boost your child’s willingness and confidence while brushing, let them choose a kid’s toothbrush for themselves. There is a world of choice available from Paw Patrol to My Little Pony, bright flashing lights to funky animal characters. 

Baths make the world go round

Adults have a thing or two to learn when it comes to embracing bathtime for themselves! Science has proven that not only does having a bath before bedtime essentially flicks a switch in your brain to start preparing for sleep, but it cools your body temperature down to optimum slumber mode. 

Plus, it makes sure that your child goes to bed as germ-free as possible while they enjoy the calming effects of the warm, bubbly water. They’ll get a better quality of sleep as a result and likely sleep for longer. Win, win. 

Storytime

Throughout your child’s early years, their speech and language development is naturally improved the more you read to them as they grow. Not only are you exposing them to a broad range of scenarios, cultures, people and different perspectives, but they are getting valuable insight into how others experience the world too. 

The beauty of sharing a story before bedtime is that you get all the educational perks on top of the last cuddle before sleep. You’ll both be more relaxed and will both have fond memories of the times you spent snuggled up with a good story. 

Time to offload

As a child, you experience a range of emotions that you struggle to grasp and control, and that’s all before you have to figure out your place in the world and manage relationships, power struggles and more. 

Whether your tot is at pre-school or nursery or you have a primary school-aged child or beyond, taking a moment to talk is a great way to offload before bed. Let them talk about the best and worst parts of their day, what they thought, how they felt. Focus on the positives, and praise them for their triumphs. After all, going to bed without worrying is healthy for a good nights sleep. 

Final toilet break

Despite your best efforts, some children simply can’t make it through the night without a drink or a trip to the bathroom. However, aiming to cut off drinks 30 minutes to an hour before bed will ensure your little one stays in bed for longer. 

Encourage your child to use the toilet just before they hop into bed to avoid any potential accidents or extra wakeups in the night. 

Goodnight

Definitive and final, just the word “goodnight” holds a lot of meaning. It is the closing of the day and a moment of farewell. Whether you get your tot to say goodnight to all their favourite toys before bed, their siblings and the dog, that’s up to you. But, “goodnight” is a powerful word. Use it! 

Parenting isn’t a one size fits all kind of deal. But this shouldn’t stop you from building a consistent bedtime routine with your child. The longer you both stick to it, the easier it will become! 

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