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What Makes a Good Bedtime Routine for a Toddler?

Sleep is a seemingly constant issue for parents of young children. Children appear to never sleep, and this makes sense when you consider that children’s sleep cycles are so different from our own. However, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you feel like you’re doing everything right but going backwards!
There is a lot of research out there on sleep which can often give contradictory advice. Plus, what works for one child might not necessarily work for yours. However, the one consistent research finding is that having a bedtime routine not only helps make bedtime easier for you and your child but also helps them achieve a better and longer sleep.

Bedtime routines are essential for toddlers, and establishing a consistent routine can help ensure they get the restorative sleep they need for healthy growth and development. Not only does a consistent bedtime routine help toddlers fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly throughout the night, but it can also help them feel secure and loved. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and strategies for creating a good bedtime routine for toddlers.

Establish a consistent bedtime
The first step in creating a good bedtime routine for your toddler is to establish a consistent bedtime. Toddlers thrive on routine, and having a predictable bedtime can help them feel secure and calm. Aim to establish a consistent bedtime that allows your toddler to get at least 10-12 hours of sleep per night. For example, if your toddler wakes up at 7 a.m., you might aim for a bedtime between 7-8 pm.

Start wind-down time
About an hour before your toddler’s bedtime, start a wind-down routine that helps them relax and prepare for sleep. Dim the lights and turn off any screens to help your toddler’s brain start to produce the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep. Encourage quiet activities like reading books or colouring. This is also a good time for a warm bath or a massage, which can be soothing and relaxing for your toddler.

Create a calm and soothing environment
Toddlers are sensitive to their environment, and a calming atmosphere can help them feel relaxed and sleepy. Consider using a white noise machine or soft music to drown out any background noise that might disturb your toddler’s sleep. Keep the room cool and dark and use blackout curtains if necessary. A comfortable mattress and bedding can also make a big difference in your toddler’s comfort level and sleep quality.

Choose a comforting bedtime routine
Establishing a comforting bedtime routine can help your toddler feel loved and secure as they drift off to sleep. Choose a few activities that your toddler enjoys and incorporate them into your bedtime routine. For example, you might read a book, sing a lullaby, or cuddle with your toddler. Whatever activities you choose, make sure they are calming and soothing rather than stimulating.

Avoid screen time before bed
Screens emit blue light, which can suppress the production of melatonin and disrupt your toddler’s sleep cycle, just like our own. Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bedtime, and consider removing screens from your toddler’s bedroom altogether. Instead, encourage quiet activities like reading or reciting your child’s favourite nursery rhymes.

Set limits and boundaries
Toddlers thrive on structure and routine, and setting limits and boundaries can help them feel safe and secure. Establish clear rules around bedtime, such as no getting out of bed once the lights are out. Stick to these rules consistently to help your toddler understand what is expected of them. There are numerous gadgets available to help with this too, such as night-lights that change colour, so your child knows when it’s an acceptable time to get up.

Practice patience and consistency
Establishing a good bedtime routine for your toddler takes time and patience. Be consistent in your approach, and don’t give up if your toddler resists the routine at first. It can take a few weeks for your toddler to adjust to the new routine, but with consistency and patience, they will learn to associate the routine with bedtime and feel more secure and calm as a result.

In conclusion, creating a good bedtime routine for toddlers is essential for their health and well-being – not to mention your sanity! By establishing a consistent bedtime, incorporating wind-down time, creating a calm and soothing environment, choosing a comforting bedtime routine, avoiding screen time before bed, setting limits and boundaries, and practicing patience and consistency, you can help your toddler get the restorative sleep they need for healthy growth and development. Remember that every child is unique, so be flexible and adjust the routine as needed to meet your toddler’s individual needs.

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Wellbeing ambassador Ruth Adams

Ruth is a renowned therapist who helps people to not only restore a healthy sleep pattern, but also works in the broader field of mental health. As an Integrative Therapist, she is able to uniquely bring together the worlds of science and ancient meditation practices to improve your entire wellbeing by working with the mind and body as one. From hormonal imbalances, fertility, deep emotional trauma, anxiety and sleeplessness Ruth is a critically acclaimed expert who host clinics, workshops and course around the world.

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