Bed time routines are important for children regardless of age. A bed time routine consists of everything that you do with your child just before and up until the time you put him/ her to bed. Some of these include taking a bath, diaper change, reading a book, etc.
Regular bedtime routines or schedules help us get the necessary sleep that we need which in turn helps us function at our optimum. For children a routine is very important, establishing and maintaining a good bed time routine helps your child fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up refreshed and fully rested. Having a good sleep routine not only helps you provide a structure that enables your child sleep well, it also provides the opportunity for you and your child to have a special time before going to bed.
There are no hard and fast rules to creating a bed time routine. Each individual has their own sleep needs and every child is unique. So, if you already employ a routine that works for your child you might want to stick to it. However, experts have outlined certain steps that can be taken into consideration to help you create an effective bedtime routine for your child.
• Make sleep a family priority
Sleep should be a priority for every family member. Make sure that you are getting the right amount of sleep that you need as a parent, then you would be able to lead your children by example.
• Recognise any sleep problems in your child
It’s important that as a parent you are conversant with your child’s behaviour so that you can notice any irregularities that could be brought on by sleep deprivation. Some symptoms of sleep problems include difficulty falling asleep, night time awakenings, snoring, resisting going to bed, and having trouble breathing during sleep or breathing heavy and loudly. Sleep problems can also be manifested in daytime behaviour such as unnecessary fatigue, sleepiness, crankiness, etc.
• Start early
It is easier to begin a good bed time routine when your child is still a baby than to try to change a bad one when the child is already a toddler or pre-schooler.
• Make your bed time routine age appropriate
As your child becomes older, it’s important that you adjust his/ her bedtime routine to reflect their age needs and desires. For example, while you can expect your baby to fall asleep while nursing or taking a formula, as he/ she grows older you would want to change that routine. Probably by starting to put him/ her down to sleep while he/ she is drowsy but not yet asleep as opposed to letting the child fall asleep while feeding.
• Be consistent
Like in all things that have to do with parenting, experts advise consistency. While you would definitely have to adjust your bedtime routine as your child gets older, you should still try to maintain a certain level of consistency with your day to day bedtime routine. One thing that you can keep consistent over a long period of time is the time that the child goes to bed.
• Offer some choices in the bedtime routine
While the child can’t choose the time that he/ she will go to bed, there are some other things that you can allow the child decide on, like the pyjamas he/ she will like to wear, what story they want to read or what they want to talk about.
By Waire Emonefe