- What are the benefits of a healthy bedtime routine for children?
- What’s the ideal baby bedtime routine?
- What’s the ideal toddler bedtime routine?
- What’s the best bedtime routine for young children?
- What are some bedtime routine tips for teenagers?
As adults, the idea of ‘wellness’ and ‘self-care’ is often drilled into us via the media, Instagram, TikTok and a whole host of influencers who profess that “living your best life” starts with looking after number one – which includes putting a healthy bedtime routine in place. 😇
The following night time routine suggestions might sound familiar to you: stopping caffeine after 2pm, limiting screen time an hour before bed, reading before sleep, meditating, not eating too much in the evenings, and so on. But what about children – what's the ideal night routine for them? Read on to find out...
What are the benefits of a healthy bedtime routine for children?
According to a research article published in 2018, children who follow an optimal bedtime routine display better mental function, specifically working memory, inhibition and attention, and cognitive flexibility. Let’s break those down and look at some of the benefits in more detail. ✨
- Language and literacy skills
Reading is considered to be extremely important when it comes to creating the ideal bedtime routine because not only does it help develop a child’s language and literacy skills, but it also strengthens the bond between parents and children. So next time your young one seems resistant to head to bed, why not suggest reading a few pages of their favourite book together?
- Improved school readiness
According to gov.uk, ‘school readiness’ is defined as “a measure of how prepared a child is to succeed in school; cognitively, socially and emotionally.” Therefore, not surprisingly, an optimal bedtime routine in children has been linked with better school grades, lower dropout rates in high school and higher earnings as an adult! 💸
- Good dental health
It’s important to keep teeth in good shape both day and night, but to make sure children maintain tip-top dental health, it’s essential that they avoid snacks before bed and brush their teeth every evening. This leads to lower prevalence of decay and a lesser chance of developing dental problems in the future.
- Better emotional wellbeing
When compared with children who have non-regular bedtime routines and, therefore, more frequent behavioural problems, those with more regular night time regimes showed lower levels of anxiety, anger and fatigue.
This is something adults can certainly relate to because as we’ve all experienced, one too many late nights can definitely start to take a toll. 🥴
So, now you know why and how effective bedtime routines can positively influence your child, let’s get into what the ideal night time routine looks like. 💤
What’s the ideal baby bedtime routine?
Bedtime routines for babies can be introduced at around three months, according to Babycentre, one of the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting destinations. And while not essential, it’s advised to do each thing during a baby's bedtime routine in the same order every time because this will help your baby know what’s coming next and therefore, encourage them to relax.
While every family is different and the wants of babies can vary, a few things you can include in their night time routine are:
- Giving baby a bath
- Putting baby into PJs
- Reading baby a bedtime story
- Singing baby a lullaby
- Soft cuddles or light massages
- Saying goodnight
- Gently dimming the lights
You may want to add a few of your own ideas into the routine, or you may discover some of these things don’t suit you or your baby. For example, you might prefer to play soothing music instead of singing – what’s important is finding things that help your baby relax, resulting in a sounder night’s sleep. 👶
What’s the ideal toddler bedtime routine?
Not entirely different from a baby bedtime routine (scroll up 😊), toddlers require just as much relaxation in order to prepare themselves for an optimal night’s sleep.
However, toddlers are likely to have busier, more active days than babies so they’ll need some time to wind down. Ideally one hour before bed, it’s advised that TVs should be switched off, stimulating activities such as play fighting should come to an end, caffeine-infused food and drinks should be avoided and only quiet games should be introduced. 🤫
Here are a few tips when it comes to establishing a healthy toddler bedtime routine:
- Try not to make the night time routine too long because it will be harder to stick to regularly.
- If your toddler looks or seems tired ahead of the usual night routine, take this as a cue to start it earlier. Ignoring signs of tiredness in order to stick to a rigid schedule at this age will simply make your young one overtired.
- Inconsistencies in setting a bedtime routine might confuse your toddler, so try your best to stick to the same programme every evening.
- When reading to your toddler, choose soothing stories instead of tales that induce too much excitement.
- If your toddler is struggling with sleep, why not introduce some relaxing scents to bedtime? Invest in essential oils such lavender, sandalwood or chamomile to encourage your young one to drop off. 😴
What’s the best bedtime routine for young children?
As children get older, they need less sleep. Kids aged 3-6 years old, for example, require 10-12 hours of sleep per day, while 7-12-year-olds need 10-11 hours. This will vary according to when your child starts school; for instance, if they need to be up at 7am to get ready for school, they should be in bed by around 9pm. 🕘
For children aged between two and eight, a study was carried out by a University of Manchester psychologist to help define what the ideal bedtime routine was.
It turns out that sticking to a consistent time of going to bed made the final cut, as did the usuals, such as brushing teeth, reading, avoiding food and drinks and introducing calming activities like bathing and talking. 🛀
One thing that the study does point out is that the use of electronic devices before bed should be avoided. This is because the blue light from TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets suppresses melatonin levels, delays sleepiness and messes up circadian rhythms.
If establishing a bedtime routine for your young child is proving to be difficult, we suggest creating a bedtime routine chart. You could even make it with your child; not only will this help them understand the importance of having a routine but it’s also a fun thing for you to do together and the result is a visually-stimulating reminder of what needs to be done before bed. ✔️
What are some bedtime routine tips for teenagers?
Teens need about 8-10 hours of sleep a night, and while it’s tempting, it’s advised that they avoid sleeping in at the weekend because it can affect their body clock. ⏰
- Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark.
- Take a warm bath to relax a busy teenage mind. 🤪
- Have a light snack or warm milky drink, but no caffeine. ☕
- Brush teeth and read a book (not a smartphone or tablet!) for 15 minutes.
- Try to exercise regularly as this will help sleep come more easily.
- Get as much natural sunlight as possible every day, especially first thing in the morning because this helps set circadian clocks.
- Stick to the same, or similar, routine each night so that the body knows to prepare for sleep.
- Look at TVs, computers, tablets or smartphones at least an hour before bedtime. If this seems impossible, make devices in bed directly before sleep a definite no-no.
- Nap during the day because it might take longer to fall asleep at night.
- Eat a large meal or drink fizzy/caffeinated drinks before bedtime as these disturb sleep. 🥤
- Take sleeping pills because they can be addictive, bad for health and don’t actually help sleep routines in the long run.
Hopefully you have lots of ideas on how to implement healthy bedtime routines for your young ones now – sweet dreams! 🌟🌙