A Parent’s Guide to a Bedtime Routine for Kids24 Feb
When evening comes, many parents experience bedtime battles with children who won’t stay in bed or who just can’t fall asleep. Since kids play hard all day, every day, it’s important for them to get the sleep they need in order to rest their little bodies and recharge their minds. The best way to get kids to sleep well is to create a consistent evening routine leading up to bedtime.
How to Create the Best Bedtime Routine for Kids
Kids crave structure, so a bedtime routine that stays the same all the time is best. The routine may change a little as kids get older, but the important thing is that the sequence of events tells them what’s coming next and that each activity brings them one step closer to falling asleep.
Try an evening routine such as this to get your child to bed:
- Eat a quiet dinner together and talk about the events of your day.
- Give your child a warm bath and let him play with bath toys he likes.
- Dress him in comfortable pajamas.
- Brush his teeth or have him brush his teeth.
- Read a story together. When he’s older, this will be the time he’ll read a book to himself.
- Tell him to lay down in bed, give him a kiss and say goodnight.
If your child has an inconsistent sports schedule or you have a work schedule that sometimes changes, try to fit the last few activities in before bed, so it’s obvious that bedtime is coming.
What Time Should My Child Go to Bed?
The time that kids need to go to bed should correlate with when they need to wake up in the morning. If your child needs to be up for daycare at 8, put him to bed in time to get the recommended hours of sleep for his age. For instance, if your child is 4 and needs 12 hours of sleep, put him to bed at 7 pm to wake up at 7 am. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following hours of sleep for each age group:
- Infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps).
- Children 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
How to Get Kids to Stay in Bed
No matter how consistent a bedtime routine is, some parents have trouble getting kids to stay in bed. If your child keeps getting up, be patient and ask yourself these questions:
- Is he scared? If so, address his concerns. If he’s going through a phase in which he’s afraid of the dark, let him pick out a fun night light with his favorite character on it. If he’s been having bad dreams, talking about it could be therapeutic. You could even try a dreamcatcher to help him feel safe.
- Has he been drinking liquids too close to bedtime? If he needs to use the restroom, try limiting drinks before bed.
- Has he been watching TV or playing video games before bed? The blue light from screens can make it hard for kids to fall asleep. Try limiting screen time to before dinner, so it doesn’t cause trouble falling asleep.
- Does he respond well to reward charts? If so, create a chart and post it nearby. For every night he stays in bed, place a star on the chart. After he’s filled an entire week with stars, reward him with a new Hot Wheels car or something else he enjoys. The goal is that eventually, he’ll get used to staying in his bed and do so without having to be rewarded.
- Is he comfortable? If he thinks your bed is more comfortable than his, he may keep getting up to come to your bed.
Kids Need Comfortable Beds Too
A bedtime routine for kids should be a time of comfort and consistency. If your child doesn’t like to sleep in his bed, it may be time to buy him a better mattress. Mark’s Mattress Outlet has a huge selection of mattresses in every size to help you choose the one that’s right for your child. Visit any of our Mark’s Mattress locations to help your entire family start getting the rest they need.
Your Mattress Shopping Journey Starts Here
A good night’s sleep is only as good as your mattress and the sleep system that supports it. Explore our buying guide to learn about the importance of quality sleep and how to find the right system.