Sleep routine

Establishing a nighttime routine

Babies and toddlers need a regular nighttime ritual. This will not only help them feel safe and secure, but it will also ensure they’re as well rested as possible. Here’s what you should keep in mind when it comes to getting your child on a sleep schedule.

Why it’s important
A bedtime routine acts like a nightly countdown to lights out. This is essential for kids, especially because they can’t tell time the way an adult can, and so they rely on cues instead. When kids can predict the order of events—dinner, bath, pyjamas, tooth brushing, stories, bed—it helps them mark the passage of time and lets them know where they are in the process and what’s coming next.

Be flexible
Even when you can’t be around to oversee bedtime, your child’s regular routine should start at about the same time and follow the same general steps. But that doesn’t mean every caregiver has to follow that plan precisely the same way, or risk a throwback to bedside battles and multiple night wakings. If you don’t make it too detailed (i.e. only specific stories and songs), then it will be easier for someone else to step in so you can have a break.

Say goodbye to guilt
When parents routinely miss their kids’ bedtime because of shift work or other commitments, often the biggest hurdle has nothing to do with sleep: It’s the worry that not being around at that time will somehow damage their children. Creating a parent-child attachment is vital for kids to have a sense of security, but this bonding doesn’t have to happen in the evening. Instead, find time to connect in some other way, like making breakfast together, or going to the park on the weekend.