The Importance of Bedtime and a Bedtime Routine
When parents get ready to welcome a new baby into the family, chances are they have spent some time discussing how they want to parent. Topics like what kind of values they want to instill, how they will prioritize family meal time and what family rules they want to enforce come to mind. Unfortunately, the importance of bedtime and having an appropriate bedtime routine typically don’t make the list. But usually, somewhere down the parenting line, it becomes apparent that creating the right bedtime routine could make a big difference, for everyone in the family.
From infancy right up to teenagers, when you prioritize bedtime, you will have happier and healthier kids. Bedtime creates the groundwork for a solid night of sleep, and all kids need healthy sleep in order to have better cognitive abilities, a stronger immune system, fewer behavioural problems, and sharper motor skills.
Bedtime – Where to Start?
There is no formal age to start a bedtime routine. A child can begin as early as six or eight weeks old. Don’t worry if you haven’t started one, it is never too late. At Good Night Sleep Site, we are big fans of an early bedtime. And while we understand that the same bedtime will not work for every child or family, there are some guidelines we can suggest to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep to thrive.
- Babies one year or under should have 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period
- Toddlers ages one to three should have 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period
- Children from three to give years of age should get 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night
- Children six to 13 years of age should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night
- Teenagers should aim for nine or more hours each night
Building A Better Bedtime Routine
There have been studies conducted which prove that when a child has a consistent bedtime routine of at least 3 times a week, they go to bed earlier, fall asleep easier and faster, have up to one more hour of sleep throughout the night and experience less frequent night wakings. We haven’t met a parent yet that isn’t interested in those benefits!
It is important to note that while a bedtime routine can relax your child and ease the transition to bedtime, it also allows for parents to bond with their children. Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to slow down, disconnect from distractions (no screen time an hour before bed!) and build attachment with your child. This is why I feel in love with Arm Here For You. This is the perfect cuddle tool that not only makes it easier for mom and dad to feed baby but also adds that extra comfort for both parent and baby to allow for longer bedtime snuggles and cuddles. Practicing better sleep habits with your child doesn’t mean you can’t have that quality attachment at bedtime with your child and Arm Here For You definitely makes it possible to do so.
Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes before your child’s bedtime to allow enough time to have a nice relaxed routine where your focus is to calm your child and get them ready for bed. The predictability of a bedtime routine will help kids predict what to expect which can also really help to alleviate bedtime sleep struggles.
A typical bedtime routine can include:
Bath (doesn’t have to be every night)
Diaper or bathroom trip
Bedtime can be a quiet and relaxing time at your house. It really can! But we aren’t going to tell you that it doesn’t take work. The good news is, that by putting some solid bedtimes and bedtime routines in place, you really will notice positive changes for the entire family. And parents, don’t forget about your bedtime needs too. When is the last time you took 30 minutes before bed to unwind and relax?
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. For more information and support on creating better sleep habits for the whole family, visit the Good Night Sleep Site website.