Bedtime struggles are sort of like a parenting rite of passage. Some kids are better sleepers than others, but at some point or another you’re going to have challenges.
This is why bedtime routines can be so helpful — especially when you start them from an early age. These routines can be especially helpful during times of transition such as when you are weaning, or when you are moving your baby into a toddler bed.
Our daughter just turned two a couple of weeks ago, and we rarely have bedtime troubles anymore, so I thought I’d share our nighttime routine in the hopes that it might be helpful for some of you.
1. Pick out all the bedtime supplies first.
Most nights our daughter takes a bath before bedtime. It’s a great way to unwind and relax at the end of the day. What I’ve realized, though, is that it is incredibly helpful to have all of her bedtime necessities laid out and ready before bathtime. I have her help me choose pajamas and set out her toothbrush with toothpaste along with her night time diaper and any lotions/creams/medicines we may need. This way, as soon as she’s out of the bath, it’s a seamless transition into winding down for bedtime — and she doesn’t have a chance to get riled up with excitement while I’m busy searching for what I need.
2. Take a bath — preferably with lavender!
As I mentioned, on many nights, bathtime is a part of our pre-bed routine. When Fern was smaller, baths were an every night occurrence, simply to get her into the habit. Over time (once the rest of our night time routine was well-established) we were able to cut them back to where she now takes a bath every other night, or sometimes every third night, depending on our day’s activities. It’s still a nice way to wind down at the end of the day — especially if you add in some soothing lavender.
3. Put her in her PJs and brush her teeth.
Once we’re out of the tub, I quickly get my daughter’s pajamas on and help her to brush her teeth as well as letting her try to have a go at it once I’ve done the real cleaning. The earlier you can incorporate this into your routine, the less challenging it will be.
4. Read a story.
Storytime is my husband’s domain. After she’s all dressed for bed, Fern gets to choose two or three books for my husband to read. They cozy up together on the couch while I get everything ready in her room for bedtime and pick up toys around the house.
5. Get in bed and sing a few songs.
After storytime we head to the bedroom, where I proceed to tuck Fern in and read her one (very short) story. Then we turn out the lights and I pat her back and sing a few songs. I let her know when I’m at the last song to prepare her so she doesn’t get upset. I leave our 30-minute timer nightlight on and say goodnight.
This isn’t anything revolutionary, but it works really well for us. She’s so used to the routine now that she rarely complains, and actually even looks forward to bedtime many nights. She sleeps in a “big girl bed” and almost always stays in bed, because she has gotten so used to the routine. It really has helped us tremendously in getting a good night’s sleep for all.