A question I am often asked is how important bedtime routines really are. Children, especially when they move out of the new-born phase, thrive on knowing ‘what comes next’. The older toddlers who try to push the boundaries with ‘one more story’, ‘I’m thirsty’ or ‘I’m hungry’ are probably none of those things – they are seeing what they can get away with. The truth is, they are not equipped to deal with the responsibility of their parents giving into their demands and they feel unsettled.
If children don’t have a consistent routine, not only do they feel anxiety because they don’t know what is coming next, they also don’t know where the boundaries are. That, in turn, provokes anxiety, which prevents them being able to sleep.
An important part of the bedtime routine is to find a consistent routine you can stick to. It should not be too long, if it is, the sleepy little person you are putting to bed may well find their ‘second wind’ and bedtime will become even more of a battle. It also should not include television or iPads; the light these devices give is enough to stimulate children and prevent their little bodies from preparing for bed.
Ideally your routine will be 20-30 minutes, and can include a bath, putting pyjamas on, a feed (if your little one still has one before bed) and stories. The important thing is to put your little one into bed awake. If you feed, rock or snuggle him/her to sleep, you may be creating problems for later down the line when you would prefer him/her to go to sleep themselves.
Make sure the bedtime routine is the same every night and the main thing is to enjoy it. If it is becoming a fight or your little one is already overtired by the time bedtime comes around just give me a call or an email. I can help you, and your family, enjoy your time together after getting a better nights’ sleep!