Bedtime battles are often at the top of parent’s list of parenting issues. Bedtime, like any other parenting task, takes planning and consistency. From infants to teens, children thrive on routine. A consistent bedtime routine helps both the child and the parents have a more blissful night.
The first key to a successful bedtime routine is having a set bedtime. I know we are all busy and there is some night of the week that you may not be home in time for bedtime, that is understandable but-as in all parenting being consistent is the key. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the “average” child in each age group needs this much sleep:
• 1-2 mos 10.5-18 hours a day including naps
• 3-11 mos 9-12 hours at night and 2-4 naps 30 minutes-2 hours long each
• 1-3 years 12-14 hours a day including 1-2 naps 1-2 hours long each
• 3-5 years 11-13 hours a day including 1 anp 1-3 hours long (no naps after age 5)
• 5-12 years 10-11 hours a night
• teens 8.5-9.5 hours a night
Now that you have figured out what time your child should be going to sleep, work backwards from there to allow 30-60 minutes for the bedtime routine. The bedtime routine is important because it gives the child the cues he needs to settle himself down and prepare for sleep. A sample bedtime routine includes 1 or both parent participating in…
• bath time
• brush teeth
• go potty
• story time
• lights out (parent leaves the room)
• [tweak the above so that it fits your family and is age appropriate]
The next part is where it gets difficult for most parents. Except in cases of infants who wake for nighttime feedings, illness and night terrors, the child is in bed for the night. They shouldn’t get up for a drink, another hug, “I can’t sleep” etc. This is where most parents fail the bedtime routine-and if they would just stick with it a week or two their life would be so much more blissful. If the child comes out of their room (this is not a time for conversation keep it simple)…
- 1st time-give them a hug an “I love you.” and walk them back to bed
- 2nd time-give them a hug and walk them back to bed (no talking)
- 3rd time-walk them back to bed (no hug, no talking)
- Depending on their age when you begin this routine, they may really push you the first few nights. I know of parents who have sat in the doorway of their child’s room (without talking with the child) so that the child will stay in bed, even if they cry and whimper for a while, they can and will eventually self-pacify and learn that the sooner they relax and go to sleep the better it is.
Consistency is the key to all parenting. In bedtime you need to be consistent in the bedtime and the bedtime routine. Kids of all ages need bedtimes that allow them to get the sleep their body needs.
What does your child’s bedtime routine consist of? Leave me a comment and let me know.