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How to Establish a Bedtime Routine for Your Child that Really Works
In some families, getting young kids to go to bed is torture for everyone. There’s tears – for parents and kids alike – plus gobs of unhappiness, not to mention a mess of wasted time for everyone. What if getting your kids to go to bed wasn’t some nightmare that began roughly an hour after dinner and lasted until past YOUR bedtime?
The trick to ending this vicious cycle is simply to start a bedtime routine as early as possible and stick to it right down to the letter every single night. Sure, there will be special occasions where the routine will have to be pushed aside for the evening, like when relatives come visit or for holidays, but for every other night, you must stay consistent.
Children need rules, discipline and consistency in order to feel secure. When they feel everything is changing constantly, it can really mess them up. The time to start creating a bedtime routine is when your child is still small. Starting before 2 months is next to impossible because newborns are changing so much and not really at the point of understanding they’re out of the womb at that point. Around 3 months is a great time to start. But if your child is already a bit bigger, don’t worry. You can still get a routine started for bedtime – just be patient and stick with it. It will become a habit you’ll soon be able to set your watch to.
Whether your child is an infant or toddler, here are some of the things you can do to make an effective bedtime routine:
Set the mood with lighting
When the evening comes on, close the curtains and use dimmer lights in the house. Not only will it create a more soothing atmosphere but it will also become a signal to your child that it will be time to sleep soon.
Give a bath
A nice, warm bath with bubbles and fun toys is a great way to connect with your child. Plus, the water will serve to help relax your child.
Massage with lotion
After a nice bath, massaging your child gently with lotion will not only seal in moisture to keep that sweet skin super-soft, but it will also keep your child calm. And who doesn’t love a good massage, right?
Even if your child is just a wee baby, reading books to your child will do more than make them sleep. It will fill their brains with new words, pictures and experiences. Your child will learn speech patterns more quickly if you read. Plus, bedtime stories are one of the most treasured memories you can make with your child.
There is no one bedtime routine that will work for every family so you’ll have to make one of your own that fits with your family’s needs. And when creating a bedtime routine, that is what is most important. After creating it, what’s most important is to stick by it. Once you’ve done it for a week, your child should be able to anticipate the pattern and comply with the routine you’ve established.