Routines help us know what to expect and what to do. Like anything, they take time and repetition before they become automatic. This applies to organizing the house, exercise and putting your children to sleep.
A study published in the May 2015 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that having a regular bedtime routine results in better sleep in children up to six years old. Just over 10,000 mothers from 14 countries reported that less than half of their infants, toddlers and preschools had regular nightly bedtime routines. Does your child have a bedtime routine?
The study collected data from mothers around the world, including the United States, India and China, reflecting various cultural and geographic differences. Despite cultural and geographic differences, the study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes.
Children with consistent bedtime routines had better sleep outcomes such as:
- Earlier bedtime
- Goes to sleep faster
- Wakes up less in the middle of the night
- Sleeps longer
What’s in a routine?
Every family’s routine will be different but it might include:
- Picking up toys – start these habits when your child is young
- Tooth brushing
- Lights off
The overall routine takes the guess work about what is going to happen for both you and your child. Determine your child’s ideal bedtime and work backwards until you arrive at the ideal start time for your routine. Life happens and some days are more challenging than others, but you’ll have a ballpark start time to get your child through the routine and into bed. Following a routine a few nights a week is great, but having a routine each night is ideal.
Having a routine can help if your family might be traveling. You may be at grandma’s house or a hotel, but if you provide your child with a similar routine, albeit in a different environment, your child will have a sense of comfort and familiarity in a new setting.
Reading to or with your child each night promotes increased exposure to words and stories. Here are some great bedtime story ideas for children of all ages.
If you already have a bedtime routine for your child, great. If not, use these simple tips to start tonight.
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP enjoyed her children’s bedtime routines even when her children didn’t. She is a a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC, a provider of on-site speech therapy in Delafield, Dousman, Hartland, Watertown, Oconomowoc, and Pewaukee. SpeechWorks helps children become confident and competent communicators.