Expert Opinion

Importance of a proper nighttime routine

When we, as parents, go to bed at night, it isn’t as simple as hopping into bed and going to sleep. We have a series of events that we do each night, including washing our face, cleaning our teeth, getting into our pajamas, perhaps reading for a few minutes and then, finally going to sleep. This becomes routine – a habit.

While this routine now comes as second nature to most adults, it’s imperative we establish a healthy nighttime routine for our children too.

Why is it important to establish a proper nighttime routine for my child?

A proper nighttime routine helps send your little ones the message that they are heading into their nighttime sleep, thanks to the established series of events in the lead up to bedtime.

Babies are natural pattern seekers, they pick up on certain routines we create throughout the day, whether that’s mealtimes, nappy changes, etc. These routines bring about a sense of comfort, making out babies feel safe and secure as they can predict what’s coming, thanks to the familiarity of the routine.

While a bedtime routine is important to set your baby up for a restful night, it’s also a great time for you to connect with your child, wind down from a busy day, and ensure their love tank is full before sending them off into their longest sleep.

What should I keep in mind when creating my child’s nighttime routine?

An ideal bedtime typically takes place around the same time each night – give or take 10 to 20 minutes. This helps regulate your little one’s circadian rhythm.

What you must ensure is that the bedtime routine and the timing of it works for your family. 80% of what we do forms a habit, so when introducing a bedtime routine, make sure it’s something you can stick to most nights.

You want to keep your bedtime routine nice and simple, so that anyone putting your baby to bed can follow the steps and so that if they haven’t napped well during the day, you can still implement the bedtime routine a little sooner, so they aren’t rendered completely overtired.

A dark room is also ideal, signaling that it’s nighttime and encouraging healthy sleep hygiene.

So, what does the ideal nighttime routine look like?

A simple bedtime routine that works for many families might go something like this:

  1. Bath time
  2. Massage then pajamas on
  3. Milk or sleep snack
  4. Clean teeth
  5. Story, song, and then cuddle
  6. Put white noise or relaxation music on
  7. Time to put them into bed

For day naps, you might use a shorter version of this but again, it’s all in the repetition of the same sequence of events that builds awareness of what is happening next – SLEEP.

About the author

Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.
Photo by Artem Podrez