Consistent Bedtime Routine for Young Children
Updated: Aug 23
Bedtime can be so stressful and relaxing at the same time!
Chasing your children around the house to get ready for bed. The whining and resistance because bedtime is their least favorite time of day.
It is really important for young children to have a regular bedtime routine and they should be getting enough sleep every night.
I love the feeling when the kids are sound asleep in their beds, and I can finally collapse on my own bed. It’s even better when it’s before 10pm.
These daily routines can help with your child's sleep problems, cognitive development, and with behavioral regulation. Our child's day has improved and our son's nap scheduled is better. We found this to be the perfect bedtime routine for our family.
Bedtime used to be such a struggle in my house. My daughter would whine that she didn’t want to go to bed. Then my son came along, and we realized we had no consistent routine to settle them down for the night and we needed to implement earlier bedtimes.
Routines are not possible every single night but establishing a routine the kids can follow can help calm them down because they know what to expect at the end of the day. My husband and I decided to set up a consistent routine and the bedtime struggles started to go away. While every night isn’t perfect, the kids have a much easier time going to bed. They don’t even remember what it was like before their good bedtime routine now.
Check out my nightly bedtime routine to get my children to bed consistently and with fewer tears.
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Each night, I like to have my family sit down together for dinner even if we're not all eating the same thing. We try to eat around the same time every night as well, which is typically sometime between 5pm and 6pm. This can very if we have sports or activities to go to and can be much harder when you have a busy day I consider this the first step for our sleep routine this is the best way to get your family on the same schedule for the night.
If you're looking to broaden your child's palate, check out our post 20 Fun Ways to Eat Veggies For Kids. You can find so many fun ways to incorporate vegetables into your child's meals.
2. Make Lunches for Tomorrow
On school and work nights, I like to make all lunches the night before. My husband likes to meal prep and freeze meals for the week over the weekend, so I will pull his lunch out for the next day and put it in the fridge for him so it can defrost.
My daughter can be a bit of a picky eater, so I have found some great foods to make for her for lunch. Check out our post Well-Balanced & Kid-Approved School Lunch Ideas to see some great school lunch ideas for younger kids. While this is a list mostly for young kids, I found that older children can enjoy many of the foods on this list as well.
3. Check School Calendar
My daughter's school provides us with paper calendars with any information we need. Since she's currently in Preschool, we receive a calendar with who is snack leader, what fun activities they will be doing, and if there's a Library Day or a Show & Tell Day.
I like to know what needs to be packed into her backpack the night before, so I don't have to rush around the next morning. The school sent us a full school year calendar at the beginning of the year, which includes breaks and school events. I like to be prepared for those and to make sure I'm not missing an important thing for the day..
4. Pack Backpack
After checking the school calendar, I like to pack her backpack. Does she have schoolwork I need to send back? Is tomorrow Library Day or Show & Tell Day? We just had Valentine's Day, so I had to send her Valentine's to school for her classmates along with toppings for Ice Cream Day. So much to remember!
If you have older kids, It could be helpful to start having them pack their own backpack the night before. They can remember to have all their homework done for the next day and it's a great way to start getting them responsible for their belongings.
5. Bath time
Now I can start the bedtime routine that includes the children. I feel like a warm bath really help calm my kids down at the end of the night and they are clean and refreshed. My son is a messy eater so I can get the food out of his hair. This is really important for a toddler bedtime routine or a baby bedtime routine. Baths before bed help with good sleep habits and I find them to be an important part of the bedtime routine.
If my daughter does not have school the next day, I do not stress a bath if they are not filthy. Depending on what is going on, sometimes we don't have time to squeeze in a bath, especially over the weekend. It is still nice to get in this quiet time during your child's bedtime routine and can help you stick to regular bedtimes.
6. Pajamas & Brush Teeth
They always get a clean pair of pajamas after their baths, and they brush their teeth for the night. At this point, they know bedtime is quickly approaching. I usually allow a little tablet time while their sibling is getting ready, but I try to avoid video games or anything too engaging. A quick cartoon or show they are currently watching is a great option at this point in the night. This keeps them settled and relaxed before bed and I don't have a hard time putting their tablets to bed after this.
7. Clean up Toys
My children, unless sick or completely exhausted, are always required to help pick up all their toys before bed. We do not want to trip over toys in the middle of the night and we have some great storage bins to keep the toys in. This part of the night is actually a great time to work on language development as well because we play a calm game and talk about what we're doing while cleaning up. My son is learning so much and he loves this important step in our bedtime routine.
Check out my post 4 Steps For Organizing Your Kid's Toys if you want to change up how your children's toys are organized.
8. Pick out Clothes and Hair Accessories
At this point in the night, we head upstairs to their rooms. My daughter loves to help me pick out her school clothes and she has a large collection of hair accessories to choose from. We pick out a bow or scrunchie to go with her outfit and set it out.
My son is not in school yet, but we pick out his clothes as well since he must go with us to bring his sister to school. It helps keep him involved to spend time picking out his clothes and is a special time for him as well.
9. Bedtime Story
Their favorite part of the day is their bedtime story. We all sit on my daughter's queen-sized bed, and my husband reads us a bedtime story for story time. He loves to use voices and interact with them to get them involved in the story and we find it's such great family quality time. I love hearing the stories as well and it's a good time for the whole family.
If you would like more bedtime stories to choose from, you can look at my Top 10 Favorite Bedtime Stories post. I list some of my favorite stories we choose from every night.
10. Turn on Night Lights & Sound Machines
Not everyone uses night lights and sounds machines, but if you do, this is a great time to turn them on. Your kids should be comfortable in their beds and ready for a good night's sleep.
Lucky for me, I don't have to worry about turning on their night lights and sounds machines because we have a Hatch Night Light. The Hatch connects to my phone and allows me to control it from anywhere in my house. I have set both of my children's Hatch systems to go on and off automatically with timers.
My daughter's Hatch is set to hot pink from 8pm to 7:30am and then it turns green at 7:30am. She knows it is time to get up once her Hatch turns green. It works great since she does not know how to tell time yet. She uses a kid’s radio to sleep so she does not use the white noise sound machine function on her Hatch.
My son's Hatch is set to hot pink from 8pm and 8am every day. I do not have it switch to green yet, but once he is old enough, I will add that program to his as well. He has rain sounds on and they are programed to turn on and off with his light.
The Hatch Night Light does not use bright lights and will stay on if your child wakes in the night or has night terrors. We have found the sweet spot for the brightness of the lights and the volume of the sounds. You cannot hear the sounds even with the bedroom door open and we found our children's quality of sleep is so much better while using them.
11. Goodnight Kisses
Then kiss your baby’s goodnight! We say our special good nights and the kids can settle in their beds for the night. They love the extra snuggles and kisses to help them relax to go to sleep.
Remember, your new routine will continue throughout the night. A consistent bedtime routine with enough hours of sleep can help your child’s sleep cycle and they will sleep through the night better.
If your children have a good night's sleep, hopefully you can too. These great bedtime rituals can can help improve your child's day and can improve their daytime behavior as well. It will also help you if your child goes through a sleep regression because you will have positive outcomes from better quality bedtime routines.
Do you have a predictable bedtime routine for your children?
What helps them go to bed each night?
Share it in the comments below!