A Good Bedtime Routine for Babies and Toddlers

5 April 2019

When you first welcome a newborn into your family, their sleep pattern will depend on needs such as feeding and changing. The first few months can be difficult, as parents will usually need to be up at least a few times in the night. Once your baby is a little older, around 3-4 months, you can start to introduce a bedtime routine. A routine helps your child to get the rest they need, makes it easier for you to get the rest you need, and introduces the concept of good sleep patterns to your child - which will benefit them throughout their life.

 Start the Routine at the Right Time

You'll be able to judge the right time for your baby to go to sleep at night, simply by seeing when they get tired. Babies usually need between 12 and 15 hours of sleep each day (which includes daytime naps). Toddlers need 10 to 14 hours of sleep, typically including one daytime nap. Start the bedtime routine for your baby or toddler 20-30 minutes before they are due to go to sleep.
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 Every Child is Different

There isn’t one single set plan for a bedtime routine, because every child and every family is different. Some children love being sung to sleep; others enjoy a story. Once your toddler is older, they may want to chat about the day, which calms them down and helps to develop their language skills. Anything calming can be done during this time, but avoid games and tablets that stimulate rather than soothe. Just remember that the aim is to have quality time with your child, while helping them to fall asleep and stay asleep. If this happens, you're doing the right thing, and exactly what this looks like is up to you.

 Include a Night Light

Most children are a little anxious when it comes to sleeping in the dark, and a simple night light is a great way to combat this. Depending on your child, you may be able to turn the light off once they are asleep, or you may prefer to leave it on in case they wake up in the night. LED lightstrips under the bed or under dark edges serve as a great night light option. 

Father reading a story to child holding a Hue Go

 Let Your Child Have Some Choice  

You should not let your child dictate what time they go to bed. However, as they get older you may be able to let them have some choices regarding their bedtime routine. This could be something as simple as choosing which story to read or which cuddly toy sleeps in their bed. Decision making in safe, contained environments is part of their development. The important thing to remember, though, is consistency. The basic elements and structure of the routine need to remain constant.

Keep to Schedule

Remember consistency is key! Do not get sidetracked by requests for more stories or let any other activity coincide with your baby's bedtime routine. Once it's time for sleep be firm about it, and they will soon come to rely on the predictability of their bedtime routine.

The time before sleep is very important for a baby or toddler, so spend some time considering what is practical for your child and build up a calming bedtime routine from there. Correct lighting throughout the house, and especially in a child’s bedroom, is part of the journey into sleep, so make sure bulbs are dim and gentle in the hour leading up to sleep. You may even choose coloured lights as a fun and calming way to transition into the dream world for your little one!