You’re visiting the Birmingham branch of Little Dreams. Click here to view the main site.

Creating a peaceful bedtime experience is a goal for most parents and can be easily put into practice. Children, regardless of age, thrive on consistency and predictability, which fosters a sense of safety and security. When working with families one-on-one, we recommend establishing a consistent bedtime routine right from the beginning, and this is entirely achievable. To assist you in constructing a bedtime routine and avoiding any bedtime struggles, we’ve broken it down to include healthy sleep habits for children of all ages, as well as guidance on developing an effective bedtime routine tailored to your child’s age.

Why is having a bedtime routine important?

When your child’s body and mind start associating activities like taking baths, reading stories, brushing teeth, and getting into pyjamas, all done in the same sequence and at the same time every night, it significantly facilitates their ability to fall asleep (not to mention the scientific benefits of regulating body temperature and soothing baths).

Without a consistent routine, children not only experience anxiety due to uncertainty about what comes next, but they also struggle to define their boundaries. This, in turn, leads to anxiety, making it difficult for them to fall asleep. An essential aspect of the bedtime routine is establishing one that you can consistently maintain. It shouldn’t be overly lengthy, as a prolonged routine may cause your child to become more alert and make bedtime more challenging.

Tips for promoting healthy sleep:

For Toddlers and Preschoolers:

Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, while preschoolers require 10 to 13 hours. Keep the bedtime routine consistent, lasting around 20-30 minutes to prevent them from becoming too alert. Choose an appropriate bedtime; a late bedtime can lead to overtiredness and difficulties settling down. Pay attention to daytime awake times, including naps, as toddlers generally need 4.5-5.5 hours of awake time until they reach the age of around 2.5-3 years.

A suitable bedtime routine might involve a bath, changing into pyjamas, and reading one or two stories. It’s important to put your child to bed while they are still awake to avoid creating sleep associations that require your presence to fall asleep. Consistency is key for toddlers and preschoolers, as they thrive on clear boundaries and repetitive routines. They learn through repetition and need consistency to understand what to expect.

For School-Age Children:

School-aged children, between 6-13 years old, should aim for 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night. To determine their bedtime, consider working backwards from the time they need to wake up in the morning. Allow for at least 1-2 hours of “digital-free” time before bed and replace screen time with quiet games or activities that promote hand-eye coordination. A relaxing bath or shower can help children unwind and should be included in their bedtime routine. Reading a story or engaging in relaxation exercises before bedtime is an effective way to conclude the routine. Keep the bedrooms free of screens at night and consider charging devices in a supervised area. The entire bedtime process should not exceed 1 hour, from bath time to bedtime, to maintain an efficient routine.

Remember that a consistent bedtime routine provides structure when your child needs to feel secure, and it can still be enjoyable for them. If you’ve established a great bedtime routine but your child still struggles with sleep, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Our sleep plans encompass a bedtime routine, but resolving sleep issues may require additional strategies. Schedule a free, no-obligation 15-minute call to discuss how we can work together and address any questions you may have!