Creating a bedtime routine
Step 1: Decide the timings
Fix a start time. That will mean that parents also have to work their evenings around that. Set aside around 30 to 45 minutes for the entire routine.
Step 2: Lighting and ambiance
The room should be dimly lit and the temperature should be cossy and comfortable. Make sure there is no noise from the television or vessels clanging from other rooms.
Step 3: Warm bath
Starting with a warm bath is a wonderful way of easing the toddler into sleep. Baths are multi-sensory and affect core body temperature, both of which can be a signal to the body to wind down. Want to add a short massage before bath? Go ahead. Children who were given a pre-sleep massage were alert, showed greater positive emotions, and were more active in a study compared to those who did not.
Step 4: Nightwear
The toddler should change into clothes he identifies as nightwear like a comfortable set of pyjamas.
Step 5: Something for the tummy
A light snack like a biscuit or a slice of toast or a banana before brushing teeth is a good inclusion in the routine.
Step 5: Brushing teeth
Make it fun by playing a song or rhyme. Teach the toddler how long 2 minutes is with the help of a song. That is the duration for which teeth should be brushed.
Step 6: Storytime and loving good night
Read a story and have a special way of kissing good night. Both parents can have their own signature goodnight kisses and hugs.
How to instill a bedtime routine for toddlers
Have a slowing-down process pre-routine: A good way to make your routine successful is to help the baby start winding down as the time for the routine approaches. Avoid energetic games.
- Avoid rushing: Make sure you are not late and then rush into things. The child senses it and the routine starts failing.
- Keep it quiet: Request the family to keep the house quiet around the time.
- Use the same room: Line up the activities in the same room every night.
- Give the child a lovey: A toy or blanket that the child finds comfort in should be tucked in along with her.
- Don’t rush the good night: Be patient. Try to sense when the child is comfortable. Ask if he needs anything more before kissing goodnight.
Toddler facing bedtime anxiety?
Some children do tend to overthink bedtime and work themselves up into not sleeping. Here are some tips:
- Sit and chat warmly: Snuggle in and talk. A conversation calms the child. But don’t let it drag on. When it's time to go, don’t encourage whining or cries of “Don’t leave” or “Sleep with me all night.” Say in advance that it's a conversation and you are there to listen. But, you will go.
- Give the child some freedom to regulate the routine: Your role is to tuck them in and make them feel secure. Sleeping is their job. Do read a story, and keep dim lights on. But, repeat what wake-up time is and stick to that.
- Worry resolution: There is a tradition in Guatemala of teaching children to give their worries to little colourful dolls called worry dolls or trouble dolls. Children can tell the dolls their worries and then put the dolls under their pillows. According to legend, the dolls then worry for the child while the child sleeps peacefully. You can buy these inexpensive dolls online, or just use the same idea of teaching your child to “give away” his or her worries to an inanimate object such as a stuffed animal or a doll you already own.
- Be consistent: Stick to the bedtime routine of bathing, brushing teeth, story, and so on. Don’t keep changing it.
- Storytime is sacrosanct: Taking the baby’s mind to a positive, imaginary world does help in giving that mind a lot of calm. Reading out loud to children has been shown to improve vocabulary and be beneficial to development, and bedtime is a perfect time to read to kids.