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8 Important Things to Know About Your Child’s Sleep Routine

1.Why is adequate sleep so important for my child?

Research has shown that children need to have an adequate amount of sleep in order for their brains to develop properly.

Without the proper amount of sleep, you might find your child having:

  • Irritable behaviors
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired learning and school performance
  • Higher risk of obesity

2. Why should my child have a bedtime routine?

Believe it or not, children thrive on routines. They seek the stability of structure that a routine offers. A bedtime routine helps ensure that your child is staying healthy by getting adequate sleep. By developing a bedtime routine, you are teaching your child strong habits for them to be healthy adolescents and adults. If your child doesn’t have a bedtime routine, consider starting today.

What do I need to know about creating a bedtime routine? 

3. Create a calming atmosphere: In the hours leading up to bedtime, try to limit stimulating activities. Watching TV, listening to loud music, or playing rowdy games can rile your child up before bed. Instead, try to include calming activities into your evening routine such as listening to classical music, reading books, or playing a family board game. 

4. Limit caffeine before bed: Caffeine is a stimulant that can make bedtime and restful sleep a challenge. Items such as soda, tea, sports drinks, chocolate, or candy can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep or stay asleep. 

5. Consider using a security object: A security object can help children feel comfortable and secure before bed. Some children have favorite blankets or stuffed animals that they use to help ease themselves to sleep. 

6. Use bedtime as a time to connect: After a long busy day, bedtime can be the perfect time to connect with your child. Use this time to read a special book together, share funny jokes, or recap the fun day you shared. Your child will appreciate and look forward to this one on one time each night. 

7. Start habits you feel good about: When creating a bedtime routine, you want to make sure that any habit you start, you are willing to follow through with. Be careful of habits such as laying with your child until they fall asleep, or sleeping in the same room as your child, or allowing your child to come to your room in the middle of the night. 

8. How can I get my child to follow the routine?

The key to having your child follow a routine is consistency. Work together with your child to develop a routine that works for your family, and then stick to it. Routines work best when they are followed every day of the week, including weekends. 

For best results, the bedtime routine should also be accepted by each of the caregivers. This means that every adult in the house should be clear on the routine and help your child to seamlessly follow each step. 

A visual schedule can be helpful in ensuring that all family members are on the same page. Place the visual schedule in an area that everyone can see, like the bedroom door, or on the bathroom mirror. Allow your child to “check off” when each step is complete. Here’s an example of a bedtime visual schedule that could work for your family. 

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