INTRODUCING A BEDTIME RITUAL TO YOUR CHILD FOR BETTER SLEEP
Struggling to get your little one into a calming and restful pre sleep routine? Whilst no one child is the same, sometimes reading the case studies of parents who find themselves in similar situations to what you find yourself in can give you that little idea that could change your child’s bedtime for good!
It’s not always easy to channel our children’s energy at bedtime. During the week, the time spent in the evening between parents and children often seems too short, and it is difficult for them to accept that they now have to leave you and go to their beds. It’s so much nicer to stay up with your parents! In order to get them ready to go to bed calmly, setting up a bedtime routine lets the child know what’s happening and that sleep is only a temporary separation. This will help them to understand and anticipate it (because they will know how to identify that a particular gesture or action brings them closer to bedtime) and therefore to be calm and reassured.
Case Study 1 – Claire and Louis, Zoe’s parents
“It was our pediatrician who told us about the importance of setting up a little ritual every night to provide a reassuring environment for Zoe at bedtime. We had set it up quite early finally, without realizing it too much, taking our marks and our little habits of young parents.
But when our little girl started sleeping in her room, around the age of 6 months (before that, she was sleeping in our room, right next to our bed), we found it difficult to put her to sleep. For a month, our evenings were very complicated and stressful because falling asleep could be particularly long and we lacked time as a couple.
So we decided to put in place a real little routine at that time, in a really structured way, to offer her a smoother transition: a little time with the family to try to make the separation more gradual. On the advice of the paediatrician, by the time this ritual took hold, we were careful, every time we came up with a new action, to properly name all the ones we had to perform until bedtime. And little by little, we got our evenings back and she slept a soothing sleep!
Here’s how our evening ritual still consists today (it’s finally quite classic!):
- A good bath to relax away the day
- Brushing teeth (this step was added along the way)
- Reading an evening story
- A big hug, talking about seeing each other the next morning
- In bed!
At the very beginning, we were both present from the “evening story” stage, and then quickly we began to alternate: sometimes dad, sometimes mum. Also because we’re not always home from work at bedtime!
Today, Zoe is 2 and a half years old and we feel that this framework is important to her. Even though, like all children, she doesn’t always want to go to bed and says (especially right now) “No, I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to sleep!”, we feel that this routine helps her to understand that bedtime is approaching. Once the book is finished, even if she tells us the opposite 5 minutes later, she will tend to tell us that it is time for her to go to bed!
Case Study 2 – Kasey and Joe – now he tells me the routine!
As a single mum, I decided to set up a bedtime routine early on with Joe. I work full time so I wanted to be organised and give him a something he could recognise as normal when I went back to work.
We start with eating dinner together around 5.30 every night when we get in. Then we head straight to the bath. I give him his toothbrush at this point, he started out just chewing it but now he gives his teeth a clean. After about 10 minutes in the bath I dress him in his pyjamas whilst singing to him and now he’s a bit older (just turned two) he tells me which song he wants. Then, we might read a book together or watch a music video (he loves music!).
He often heads to his room at this point and we play in his bedroom with the lights on low with some of his less stimulating toys, nothing with a screen! At 7pm I put him in his cot and most nights he falls asleep and I hear nothing more until around 6 the next morning. He has his moments where this all goes out of the window but most of the time it works, and it gives me my evenings to catch up on everything else! This week, as I said goodnight, he put his head up over the side of cot and in his own baby talk said “see you in the morning!”
Article written by Leila Petit
This article was first published by Laudavie on the 19th February 2019 and has been translated and adapted for our English speaking audience.
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