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How to Create a Bedtime Routine

Boy holding Pause with Panda while sleeping

Routines can be a great way to build stability and consistency in your child’s life. Human beings are creatures of habit, and children are no exception! Routines help teach your child that they are safe, well cared for, and loved.

Bedtime routines are an especially important type of routine for children. Getting consistent and high-quality sleep is crucial for a child’s growing brain and mind. Research shows that bedtime routines for children can help them fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and sleep better throughout the night. Mindfulness bedtime routines can even help children to feel calmer and more at ease they fall asleep.

Whether you’re interested in starting a bedtime routine with your child, or just looking for some new components to integrate into an existing routine, read below for some helpful tips and ideas.

Why Are Bedtime Routines Important?

Bedtime routines for children are important for a lot of different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that many children don’t get enough quality sleep at night. 

Children tend to need a lot more sleep than adults do, and research suggests that many children are not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation in children can cause lots of problems, from inattentiveness at school to irritability and mood swings. 

Creating a stable and consistent bedtime routine can help children get the quality sleep that they need.

All About Bedtime Routines for Children

You might be wondering, what is a bedtime routine? Is it just a schedule that you follow at bedtime?

While bedtime routines do tend to have some of the same components of a schedule, they are so much more! At its heart, a bedtime routine is a set of simple activities that you perform with your child each night. These activities help your child wind down and relax before falling asleep.

One of the most crucial parts of a bedtime routine for children is that it’s implemented relatively consistently from day to day. Your child’s bedtime routine should start around the same time each day and should usually include the same activities, with some room for flexibility. The ideal bedtime routine is also relatively short, lasting no more than 15-20 minutes. 

Some components of a bedtime routine for children might include a bath, brushing their teeth, putting on pajamas, a short mindfulness activity, reading a bedtime story together, and a kiss goodnight.

If your child is resistant to going to bed, try giving them some choices in their routine. For example, allow them to pick which book to read or which pajamas to wear. Children have such little control over their daily lives, allowing them this kind of control (within the parameters of a routine) can do wonders for preventing meltdowns!

Mindfulness Bedtime Routines

In addition to bedtime stories and other bedtime activities, mindfulness can be a great component to add to your child’s bedtime routine. Mindfulness is a great tool for anyone to have in their toolbox, but especially for children. Mindfulness helps children feel calmer and more in control, which are important components of social-emotional learning and healthy development.

When it comes to sleep, mindfulness bedtime routines are an excellent way to help children wind down from the rush and excitement of the day. Just as adults might listen to a sleep meditation or other mindfulness exercise to help them fall asleep, children can experience the same benefits!

Pause with Panda’s bite-sized mindfulness exercises are a great way to easily introduce and incorporate mindfulness into your child’s bedtime routine.

Example Bedtime Routine Ideas

Looking for some ideas to incorporate into your child’s bedtime routine? Consider trying these bedtime routine ideas:

  • After brushing teeth, spend some time snuggling in bed together and ask your child reflective questions about their day, like “What was your favorite thing we did today?” You can also ask your child what they’re looking forward to tomorrow.
  • Instead of reading a bedtime story together, pick out a favorite song and sing it together.
  • Five-minute warnings can help children transition to new activities, including bedtime. Try giving your child a warning five minutes before you begin their bedtime routine.
  • Create a chart or other visual reminder with all of the components of your child’s bedtime routine and display it somewhere they can easily see.
  • Ease into bedtime by dimming the household lights and switching to a calmer activity, like reading or playing quietly, before beginning your child’s bedtime routine. This can help them ease into their bedtime routine with minimal fuss!

The Benefits of Bedtime Routines

The benefits of bedtime routines for children cannot be overstated. Research shows again and again how bedtime routines can help support children’s well-being and development. 

In the short term, bedtime routines can help children get better quality sleep. This can help them perform better in school, have better attention during the day, and be in a better mood in general. Bedtime routines can also teach your child the importance of mindfulness, reflection, and self-care. 

Regular bedtime routines also help children in the long run! Researchers have found that children who develop healthy sleep habits through stable bedtime routines in childhood tend to have better sleep as they get older. 

Bedtime routines can also be beneficial for the parent-child relationship. Bedtime routines can be an important time for you to connect with your child and bond. Reflection and mindfulness bedtime routines can also create a space for you and your child to connect by reviewing the day together.

Bedtime routines aren’t just beneficial for children, they’re helpful for parents and caregivers too! As every parent knows, when children don’t get the sleep they need, it can cause increased stress and sleep disruptions for parents as well. Researchers have found that bedtime routines for children can help parents to feel happier and less stressed, especially around bedtime.

All in all, bedtime routines are a great way to support your child’s and your family’s health and well-being!

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