A Consistent Bedtime Routine (try it, you might like it)

Most experts agree that having a consistent bedtime routine will help little ones transition to bedtime more smoothly.

A Consistent Bedtime Routine (try it, you might like it) 1Elizabeth 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 Consistent Bedtime Routine (try it, you might like it) 2A 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:

  • Dinner
  • Family walk
  • Bath
  • Brush teeth
  • Pajamas
  • Brush hair
  • Books (sometimes)
  • Prayers 
  • Kisses for daddy
  • Mama's milk
  • Off to sleep...

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?

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16 comments on “A Consistent Bedtime Routine (try it, you might like it)”

  1. My son Gabriel (16months old) is always ready for bedtime almost immediately after he eats dinner but in order to put him down at a decent hour (not 6 pm.. cause he'll be up at 5 am, instead of his usualy 6 am..) this is what we do: Rub a dub in the tub for about 20 minutes, this includes a bit of play time, body/hair washing, then its off to get lotioned up with calming lotion and dressed in his PJ's.

    Then we read a few books, after I've read Goodnight Moon he knows we are getting ready for "SleepyTown", that has been my name for bedtime for each of my kids! I lay him in his bed, turn on the cd player to Baby Einstein's Lullabies and its off to Sleepytown without any fuss! This has worked for us ever since he was a baby (well after I'd say 6 months old).

  2. Routines? I can't plan that far in advance! Actually, this is how it goes...

    play (to get the energy out and get sufficiently tired enough to actually go to sleep)
    I usually nurse him to sleep at this point (another rule-breaker so I'm right there with ya!)
    If he doesn't fall asleep we rock/walk

  3. We started a consistent routine at 6 months when Alex was still waking up 3-4 times a night (sometimes more!). We decided it was time to work on sleeping through the night, or at least waking up less.

    Our bedtime routine has changed as he has changed. It started at 6pm when we started the routine and now starts at 7:30. I was also nursing when we started the routine, and no longer nurse. Like you, I always nursed him to bed. Every single night. And every single time he woke up during the night.

    Now, our routine looks somewhat like this:

    7:30 Bath
    7:40 Lotion, Powder/Diapers, PJ's
    7:45 2 "bedtime" books
    7:55 Bottle
    8:05 Teeth brushing
    8:07 Rocking in chair until asleep or close enough to put himself to sleep

    Obviously those times are not always right! We do start around 7:30 pretty consistently, but it changes based on the day. Some days he will not have napped as well and will go to bed at 7, some days he'll have taken a long nap in the early evening and wont go down until 9! So, while I think routines are certainly important...at this age, I don't think it's necessary to be TOO strict with it!

  4. We don't have a consistent bedtime for the baby yet, but we will soon. For Blondie it's pj's, teeth time, stories in bed, prayers, songs, kisses and hugs, and lights out. She does GREAT with her bedtime routine and, as you know, sleeps pretty much anywhere. We hope Cheeks will be the same!

  5. I've been trying to cut down our bedtime routine because now with two it was burning me out getting both to bed and trying to do it on time. Now I think my husband will be putting our oldest down while I settle the baby. I did just make up a new routine for A1 though complete with hand motions.

    Brush (finger brushing motion)
    Book (book with hands)
    Pray (hands in "prayer")
    Bed (sign for bed)
    Sunshine (two hands making a circle - she calls her lullaby CD "sunshine")

    Until her sister was born her last thing before bed was nursing although she no longer fell asleep nursing. Her sister now does fall asleep nursing.

  6. My girls always feel asleep when they nursed too. Our routine is snack, bath, pjs, brush, read story, hugs and kisses, and bed for youngest and quiet reading in bed for my oldest until it is time for bed

  7. Two cute anecdotes from our bedtime routines:
    My 20 month daughter 'composed' a "Baby, sleep" song that she and I sing together in the rocking chair.
    And my 3 yr old son begs to hear Vivaldi's "Spring" while I scratch his back after the lights have been turned off. Yes, music is important in our house!

  8. I can't tell new parents enough how dire a routine is.

    This is my night.

    3:30 off work.
    4:00 pick up girls and head home
    5:00 Home and repacking the girls bags for the next day
    6:00 Make dinner, eat dinner
    7:00 Start baths for the 7 year old, 17 month old and 5 month old. Give baths and put lotion on the girls. TRY to read a story.
    8:00 The littlest girls are in bed and sleeping soundly.

    Routine is a life saver!

  9. We are huge fans of routines - and we made sure that Anna's didn't change much when Paul entered the picture! What is funny is how he has picked up on it without us telling him to! BTW - Anna is almost 6 and Paul is 21 mos. Here's what we do:
    - Dinner
    - walk/ get the mail
    - dessert (summer fruits are our favorites right now)
    - clean up the toys
    - brush teeth (Paul loves this step)
    - PJs (after teeth becuase Paul still poors water everwhere
    - 1 family story (Anna has taken up being the reader)
    - "kissing hands" all around
    - suggles in each kids bedroom (If hubby is gone I snuggle with Paul first and Anna gets extra time to read)
    - lights out
    we then give each kid ONE chance for something extra, either extra hugs, water, etc... they haven't realized that they really are not getting away with anything!

  10. When our daughter was younger we had a specific bedtime routine....and it was nice and relaxing...Now that we have our son...it gets to be a bit more difficult...Lately, our house at night time has been chaotic!! We are starting to restructure our bedtime routine just in time for school to start!! GREAT POST BY THE WAY:)

  11. I think we have the most low key bedtime routine. Eat dinner, change diaper and put pajamas off, brush teeth, give kisses, hand over pacifier and turn on Glo-worm in the crib. My little one practically runs in the room after she gives out her kisses so she can get her pacifier! (It's the only time she gets it and I'm not ready to give it up yet!)

  12. As you might imagine bedtime is a tad less peaceful around these parts (think bedtime times 4). Ours looks like this:

    One parent cleans up while the other parent bathes the baby.
    Pajamas for the younger two.
    Dessert for the older two.
    Teeth brushing all around.
    Books for the younger two.
    Lights out for the younger two (w/plenty of prayers, hugs, and kisses).
    A family TV show for Mom, Dad, and the older two.
    Lights out for the older two (they're over the tucking in routine, but they're still game for a hug before bed).
    Ah. Mommy and Daddy time in peace and quiet. Finally.

  13. When I first picked Sabrina up in Guatemala, we were on our own for a few months until the adoption was complete. Our bedtime routine was really our bonding routine. She knew what every evening would look like: dinner, bath, books, singing, bottle, bed. I really enjoyed the whole routine. Once we came home, my husband took over the bedtime routine. I miss it some days but realize the he has much less face time with her than I do every day so it is important for him to have that bonding time with her. So I've given that over to him.

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