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The Importance of Children’s Bedtime Routines

25 Oct 2023

Bedtime is one of the most special parts of your child's day, with so much crucial development and growth taking place as they sleep. 

However, we know that getting a child tucked into bed is far easier said than done. That’s why a well-planned bedtime routine is so important. Getting your child tucked in and sleeping soundly becomes a far simpler task with these little rituals, giving you some truly magical bonding time. 

But how exactly do you craft the perfect bedtime routine for your child? And how do you adapt the routine so that your little one continues to enjoy a blissful night's sleep as they grow?

The Importance of a Child’s Bedroom

Creating a beautiful bedroom and a cosy bed that your little one is eager to curl up in can make the bedtime routine easier.

With a personalised bedroom they love, your child will feel much more comfortable, relaxed and happier to stay tucked up in bed all night. 

One way to create a perfect sleep sanctuary for your child is to ensure that you have heavy curtains in place. In summer months, when it may still be light outside, drawing the curtains tight can create a dark environment for sleep. Plus, they’ll help create a dark atmosphere, so your child can sleep soundly until wake-up time. Our curtains are fully lined and heavyweight to create a perfect environment for the sweetest of sleep. 

Cosy bedding can also be a wonderful way to make bedtime a happier experience for your child. Choose bedding that fits with an interest of theirs, like trucks or dinosaurs, to create positive associations with bedtime. Or opt for reversible bedding as a fabulous way to give your child a small sense of control in their bedtime ritual, allowing them to pick which pattern to display each night. 

As they get older, allow your child to take part in choosing what bedroom furniture, bed or bedding you buy for them. The more their bedroom is personal to them, the more safe and comfortable they will feel. 

You can consult our blog on children’s bedroom design inspiration as well as our kid’s bedding guide for more help.

The Benefits of Children’s Bedtime Routines

When you introduce a consistent bedtime routine into your little one’s life, you’ll begin to see a number of wonderful benefits, including improvements in:

  • Attention
  • Behaviour
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Physical and Mental Health

In particular, good sleep has been linked to better overall school readiness, meaning how well prepared a child is for school cognitively, socially and emotionally.

With a good sleep routine, you’ll also help your child to avoid conditions linked to inadequate sleep

How to create a bedtime routine for your child

It’s all well and good to understand the importance of a bedtime routine, but how exactly do you create one? Luckily, DUSK is here to help.

What to include in a children’s bedtime routine

Whilst a child’s bedtime routine should be tailored to their needs, here are a few steps that can often be beneficial. However, this list is by no means exhaustive, and there may be special elements unique to your child that you may want to include. 

  • A nutritious supper: By including a small snack in the dining room at the start of your child’s bedtime routine, you can help to avoid night-time hunger pangs that might wake them up. 
  • Brushing teeth: Dental hygiene is so important for your little one, and instilling the importance of keeping teeth squeaky clean when they’re young can help them follow this rule as they get older.
  • Bathing/washing face: Getting your child used to washing can teach them the importance of cleanliness as they grow up. Plus, a warm bath can relax their body, helping them to drift off to dreamland easily. Finish by drying them with a soft towel for extra cosiness and relaxation. 
  • Reading a story: Reading a bedtime story together can be incredibly beneficial for your child’s language development and creative thinking and a wonderful way to strengthen your bond. This reading time can occur in bed or in a special reading nook. 
  • A lullaby: Singing or playing a soothing melody can be another lovely way to settle your tot.

Finish with a kiss goodnight, drawing the curtains and switching off the light. 

Tips for perfecting your child’s bedtime routine

Once you’ve created your child’s bedtime routine, follow these tips to help it go smoothly night after night. 

  • Stick to your routine: A bedtime routine is a consistent and repetitive set of activities that can be carried out night after night before your child goes to sleep. These should be done in the same order each night, as this predictability is soothing to your child. 
  • Less is more: You shouldn’t stretch out the bedtime routine too much. If the routine is very long, this can mean it is harder to stick to on evenings when you are low on time.
  • Start early if needed: If your tot seems sleepy, start the routine earlier than usual. Otherwise, there’s a chance your child will become overtired and be more difficult to settle. 
  • Avoid caffeine: The golden rule for any bedtime routine, regardless of age, is to avoid caffeine for several hours before bed.
  • Encourage self-soothing: If your child gets up in the night, gently redirect them back to bed to gently self-soothe back to sleep. Similarly, you should leave your child’s bedroom when they are sleepy but not asleep to get them used to falling asleep alone. 
  • Adapt if necessary: It may be that parts of the bedtime routine aren’t working as expected. That’s okay- you can tweak the routine to make it more effective and also let your little one have some input about what they prefer. 

How To Adapt Your Child’s Bedtime Routine as They Grow Up

As your child gets older, their bedtime routine should change with them. For example, your child’s bedtime should become later in accordance with the amount of sleep they need per night. According to Great Ormond Street Hospital, the amount of hours of sleep your child needs decreases as they grow up like so:

  • At four to twelve months old, they’ll need 12-16 hours, including naps.
  • At one to two years old, they’ll need 11-14 hours, including naps.
  • At three to five years old, they'll need 10-13 hours, including naps.
  • At six to twelve years old, they’ll need 9-12 hours.
  • At thirteen to eighteen years old, they’ll need 8-10 hours.

It’s important to remember that when making changes to a child’s bedtime routine, this should be done gradually, making one change at a time so as not to overhaul the ritual suddenly.

Bedtime routine for a toddler

To adapt your child’s bedtime routine for toddlerhood, start by giving them small amounts of control in their routine to help them feel more like a “big kid”. This can include picking out what pyjamas to wear or choosing what book to read. 

Toddlerhood is also when children start to exhibit separation anxiety. Luckily, from age one, you can introduce soft toys and fluffy blankets as bedtime companions for your child to help them feel safe and self-soothe.

Bedtime routine for an older child

As your child gets older, you can include more responsibility in their bedtime routine. This can include brushing their own teeth and washing, first with supervision and then alone once they’ve built up trust. 

You can also implement five to ten minutes of tidying their bedroom into the routine so that they can fall asleep in a clean and uncluttered environment. Our storage pouffes and ottoman benches are ideal for clearing away toys, books and games. 

Now that your child is older and likely having a busy day without you at nursery or school, you can build talking about their day into the bedtime routine. This can be wonderful for your bond and help to give a sense of the day coming to a close. 

Bedtime routine for tweens and teens

A tween or teenager will likely be taking themselves to bed with minimal supervision, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them stick to a healthy and relaxing routine.

Set an example by following a healthy bedtime routine for yourself. Encourage them to avoid caffeine and turn off blue light-emitting screens for an hour before bed. 

In place of reading, encourage or even join your teen in soothing before-bed activities such as journaling, reading or meditation. Consult our mindfulness tips for a better night’s sleep to help with this. 

Another key consideration in establishing a teenager’s bedtime routine is to avoid long weekend lie-ins. Whilst an extra hour can be wonderful, try not to let lie-ins extend for much longer than that, as it can throw off your teen’s overall sleep routine. 

Don’t forget to browse our selection of delightful children’s bed linens as well as beds to create a dream-worthy spot where your little one can end their day. And for any ideas, take a look at our inspiration page or follow our Instagram

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