Most experts agree that having a consistent bedtime routine will help little ones transition to bedtime more smoothly.
Elizabeth Pantley, mother of four and author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, advises parents to develop a consistent bedtime routine and to try to view it as a special time to be treasured with your child.
She writes, "We parents today have demanding schedules and juggle multiple tasks all day long. There's too much to do and never enough time to do it. The bedtime routine often gets slotted as one more "thing to do..." I'd like to present you with a new way of looking at your child's bedtime routine: as a wonderful opportunity for a nightly ritual of quiet connection and bonding."
She goes on to say that parents should allow at least a hour for bedtime - start to finish. And she posits that "most toddlers and preschoolers respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m." [She also notes that "creating a specific bedtime routine usually isn't suggested or even necessary for newborns."]
A bedtime routine can include a number of activities: a bath, reading books, singing songs, saying prayers, giving your baby/toddler a massage, telling stories, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc. Essentially, you have to try a few things until you find something that works for you and your family.
In our house, our night usually looks something like this:
I know, I know. You're not supposed to nurse your baby to sleep. Well, I don't always follow "supposed-tos" and this is one prime example. This routine works wonderfully for our family and bedtime is a peaceful experience in our house. I actually look forward to bedtime - the peace and quiet, the snuggles, the giggles, the opportunity to daydream and write blog posts in my head as my daughter drifts off the sleep. Believe it or not, I have never missed bedtime - not even once - I just really, really love that special time between us.
YOUR TURN: Do you have a bedtime routine? What does your routine look like?