Kids’ Bedtime Routine Countdown
Research shows that getting enough high-quality sleep is as important to your kids' health and well-being as just about anything that happens during the day—and a consistent bedtime schedule is key to making that happen. Here are 10 ways to ensure they get the sleep they need to stay active and alert.
10. Let the wiggles out. Young kids can get hyped up after mealtimes. Harness that post-dinner energy: Set a timer for 20 minutes, put on some peppy tunes, and dance (or hop, skip, and jump) it out. Bonus: Race to see how many toys they can pick up and put away before a song finishes.
9. Shut down the screens. At least half an hour before bedtime, put all computers, tablets, phones, and TVs to sleep, too. Research shows those glowing screens have an adverse effect on getting good shut-eye. (That goes for you, too!)
8. Allow a small evening snack. But don’t let kids eat too much – a full stomach can interfere with sleep. A high-carb bite, such as peanut butter on a cracker, is enough to help small stomachs make it through the night.
7. Draw a bath. Bath time invites calm, quiet play. Warm water naturally soothes, and adding some relaxing aromatherapy is clinically proven to help coax a few more yawns out of your little ones.
6. Streamline the bathroom sink routine. Keep the order of the steps consistent. Some tasks naturally follow others—fluoride rinse after brushing, for example, and calming lotion after bathing. Just be sure to do it the same way every night. (And don't miss these tips for helping kids prevent cavities.)
5. Massage tired limbs. After toweling off, baby lotion helps keep irritating dryness at bay. It also gives Mom an opportunity to gently massage shoulders, backs, and muscles that have been hard at play all day.
4. Treat sniffles. Allergies and colds are notorious sleep busters. If your child suffers from allergies, help put those symptoms to rest with antihistamines, saline spray, and a vaporizer in the bedroom. (Are these allergy triggers lurking in your kids’ rooms?)
3. Think dark and cool. If it’s too light out, it may be hard to settle down. Outfit windows with blackout shades. (Snap on a hallway nightlight to ward off fear of the dark.) Also consider temperature. Cool air (60 to 67°F) helps most people get to sleep.
2. Spray away anxieties. Monsters under the bed? They may not be real, but your child’s fear certainly is, and rational discussion may not work in the dark. Many parents find a spray bottle of “monster repellent” (shh--water with a little lavender essential oil) helps keep those monsters away.
1. Finish with a story and a song. Why mess with success? Stories such as Goodnight Moon and soft renditions of “You Are My Sunshine” have lulled children to sleep for generations. Cap off the performance with a whispered blessing, and tiptoe out of the room. Nighty-night!