Tips and Tools for The Best Bedtime Routine. Transform Your Child’s Bedtime, 2024

by | Feb 17, 2024 | Improving sleep, Toddler, Top tips

Bedtime battles with toddlers and young children can leave parents feeling exhausted and frustrated. If you’re struggling to establish the best bedtime routine, you’re not alone. In fact, most of my clients are trying to constantly rework elements of their bedtime routines to find the perfect fit. However, this often leads to a bit of inconsistency and that doesn’t help in the long run.

Fortunately, with the right strategies and support, you can turn bedtime into a calm and enjoyable experience for your family. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips for creating the best bedtime routine and introduce tools and resources to support your journey.

best bedtime routine

Understanding the Importance of a Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine is essential for helping children transition from playtime to sleep, night to day. By following a predictable sequence of activities each night, you can signal to your child that it’s time to unwind and prepare for bed.

It’s widely recognised that bedtime routines can reduce bedtime resistance, improve sleep quality, and promote emotional well-being in children.

The transition between night and day becomes really important as children enter their toddler and pre-school years. You may have had the best bedtime routine when they were younger, but it can need some changes now they’re a little more independent!

Establishing the Best Bedtime Routine

Let’s dive into some easy steps for creating a bedtime routine that works for your family:

  • Consistency is Key: Choose a regular bedtime and stick to it (within a 30 minute window) where possible, even on weekends. Consistency can help regulate your child’s internal clock and fosters better sleep patterns. Set a timer or use visual cues like a bedtime chart to help your child understand when it’s time to start their bedtime routine. For those of you with automated set ups at home like wifi lighting, you can set them to start to dim the closer you get to bedtime.
  • Wind Down Activities: Incorporate calming activities into your bedtime routine, such as reading a bedtime story, practicing gentle yoga stretches, or listening to soft music. These activities can help your child relax and prepare for sleep by signalling to their body and mind that it’s time to unwind. Tonies also do a ‘sleepy range‘.
  • Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to screens before bedtime, as the blue light can interfere with melatonin production and disrupt sleep. Ideally cut the screens out 1 hour before bedtime and opt for screen-free activities that promote relaxation, such as colouring, puzzles, or quiet play.
  • Watch that sugar and caffeine. It’s hidden too. Even the best bedtime routine can be thrown by a kiddies who is experiencing a sugar rush! Beware the hidden sugars, such as those in ketchup, mayonnaise, yoghurts and past sauces. Some kiddies are very sensitive to the effects.

Tips for the Best Bedtime Routine and Bedtime Success

Consider adding these calming activities to your bedtime routine:

bedtime flashcards for the best bedtime routine
  • Bedtime Flashcards: Help your child visualise each step of the bedtime routine with interactive flashcards. This puts them in the driving seat and really helps to avoid some pressure points and bedtime battles. Our bedtime flashcards feature colourful illustrations (or a black and white outline version for them to colour in!) and simple instructions to make bedtime fun and engaging for your little one. From brushing teeth to putting on pyjamas, these flashcards can help your child feel more confident and independent as they follow along with their bedtime routine.
  • Bedtime Story: Enjoy quality bonding time with your child by reading a bedtime story together. Check out these recommended bedtime books feature calming themes and beautiful illustrations to set the stage for sleep. Choose books with gentle rhythms and soothing language to help your child relax and drift off to sleep peacefully. Bonus points if they’re about sleep!
  • Gentle Massage: For some kiddies you can incorporate a gentle massage into your bedtime routine to help your child relax and unwind. Use a small amount of lavender-scented lotion or oil and gentle strokes to massage your child’s arms, legs, and back. Massage can help release tension, promote relaxation, and create a sense of closeness and comfort between you and your child.
  • Heavy work: This is a type of movement activity that can help give their little bodies some proprioceptive input. This helps have a calming effect on the body. Try out some of the activities mentioned in this blog post a couple of hours before bedtime – it can help with their emotional self-regulation!
  • Cut out the stimulation! For some kiddies, there’s just too much of a good thing! Bath time and visual books with flaps/songs etc can serve to stimulate rather than relax. Try bringing bathtime earlier in the day if possible and swap out visual stories for audiobooks/Tonies or simply sitting them on your lap and telling them a story.
  • Help your child with actions not words! Sleep is a very odd concept to grasp, even as an adult. Let’s talk to them about the actions related to sleep, such as lying down, closing our eyes and being quiet as a mouse. This helps them to understand what it is we’re looking for.

How long should the best bedtime routine take?

This is very individual, but for the best bedtime routine, we’re probably (or typically) looking at a 45-60 minute window if you’re including a bath. The last 20 minutes or so should be calm, in their own sleep space, preferably with low lighting. Don’t worry if you’re over or under this amount, as long as it doesn’t feel like you’re cutting it short or it’s dragging on and on.

Bedtime taking too long? In my bedtime battles course I talk about avoiding bedtime delay tactics. You can use my flashcards to help too.

What are the parts of the best bedtime routine?

Again, this is very individual, but you’re probably looking at incorporating some (or all) of the following elements. If any of these activities can overstimulate your child then it’s best to put them at the beginning, or earlier in the day.

For example, I’m a HUGE fan of reading to your child, but if it’s not calming, then let’s do that in the morning instead.

The order is up to you.

  • Bath/shower/wash
  • Teeth
  • Books/audio books
  • Pyjamas
  • Toileting or nappy change
  • Talking about your day/feelings
  • Cuddles and kisses
  • Saying the last ‘sleepy phrase’ such as “Night night X, I love you, close your eyes, lie down nicely, be quiet as a mouse, it’s sleep time. See you in the morning”

It’s got to get better…right?!

Enhance your bedtime routine with these tailored tips:

master the best bedtime routine and bedtime battles
  • If it’s really bad, consider taking our amazing ‘Bedtime Battles’ Course: Take the stress out of bedtime with our comprehensive online course. Learn proven strategies for overcoming common bedtime challenges, such as resistance, anxiety, and night waking. Our course covers topics such as setting realistic expectations, creating a calming sleep environment, and implementing positive reinforcement techniques. With practical tips and expert guidance, you can transform bedtime battles into peaceful evenings and restful nights for the whole family.
  • Schedule a 1:1 Call: If bedtime feels overwhelming, don’t hesitate to book a personalised consultation with our sleep expert. During a 1:1 call, we’ll discuss your specific concerns and challenges related to bedtime, such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent night waking, or bedtime resistance. Gemma will provide personalised recommendations and strategies to address your child’s sleep issues and help the best bedtime routine come together.

With patience, consistency, and the right tools, you can transform bedtime from a battleground into a calm and connected part of your daily routine. Whether you’re in need of practical tips or personalised support, Gemma’s here to help you achieve more peace at bedtime. Start implementing these strategies today and enjoy peaceful nights and restful sleep for your entire family.

Still need some help?

If the generic advice on the best bedtime routine and bedtime battles isn’t helping, I’m here to help! I can tailor advice and plans to your family and situation.

I can help re-establish good bedtime habits and provide tips on how to cope with inevitable nighttime disruptions. I offer tried-and-tested sleep support solutions that are well worth the investment for your whole family.

Remember there’s also my comprehensive Bedtime Battles course to help you get back on track!

Have a look at my sleep consultant packages or directly get in touch.

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Hi, I’m Gemma, your sleep consultant

I am a certified baby and child sleep specialist who works with families all over the world.

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