Positive Bedtime Routines

By Step by Step Consulting

Does your child have difficulty falling asleep?

Do you have to stay with your child each night until they fall asleep?

Do you sleep with your child or does your child sleep with you each night?

If these are things you would like to change, these tips should be helpful. The tips below include ways to establish a positive bedtime routine and also different tips for getting your child to feel comfortable sleeping alone if this is something they find difficult.

Suggestions for establishing a good bedtime routine: If your child has issues sleeping alone

  • Ending screen time about 1-2 hours before bed time as a lot of the shows can be overstimulating and also prevent having technology devices in the bedroom can help. The bedroom should be only associated with sleeping.
  • Rough and tough tumble games should be avoided in the 1-2 hours before bed time, if possible. Instead, aim to focus on calmer and quieter activities in the lead up to bedtime.
  • Baths can be a really nice addition to your child’s bed time routine (if your child enjoys bath time).
  • Consider the sleep environment. The bedroom should be as dark as your child is comfortable with, quiet and cool. If your child has specific sensory issues, be aware of how these may affect sleep and adapt the room as needed. Also, consider tactile sensitivities that may relax or arouse your child. Look at bedding and pyjama textures, whether they prefer their feet covered or uncovered, how loose or tight the clothes are etc.
  • Lots of movement during the day can make it easier for kids to sleep and they tend to have deeper sleep. Aim to have this earlier in the day as close to bedtime can actually have the opposite effect.
  • If your child is past the age of napping midday, try and prevent naps where possible (sometimes, this is easier said than done as car trips and different things can mean your child may be more likely to fall asleep).
If your child has issues sleeping alone:
  • Make some changes to the bedroom to make it a little more appealing. Examples include duvet with their favourite characters, lullaby music, favourite teddy in the bed.
  • In the days leading up to the change, begin to talk about it and allow them to get used to the idea of sleeping alone. You can use visuals for this also if it will help to make it more concrete for your child.
  • Talk about the bedtime routine will look like. “When it’s bedtime, we will wash our teeth, put on pyjamas, read two stories, listen to our music and go to sleep all by ourselves (this will depend on your own home routine). You are providing predictability and letting them know exactly what is happening. Social stories is also a nice way to prepare them for this and you can personalise these with pictures of your child’s room, pyjamas, etc.
  • Depending on how long your child has been sleeping with you, it may need to be a very gradual approach. Some parents find the gradual approach easier where you are moving them out of the room step by step with different stages they are comfortable with.
  • If they go into your bedroom after you have said good night, you can take them back to their room. You may need to do this a few times initially and provide comfort for them. This is a big change for them so remember this. The most important thing is consistency. Again, let them know you’re in the next room and you can also turn on the light if they will feel more comfortable.
Patience and consistency are very important for the first few days of changing sleeping routines for your child. It will take them time to get used to the new routine and if they do stay in their own bed, let them know how proud you are the next day and give lots of praise for being so brave. We also recommend targeting sleep issues at a time when you may have holidays from work as your sleep will likely be disrupted for few nights. Different children will present with different challenges around bedtime. The above tips are just some general tips.If you would like to discuss your child and their specific issues, get in touch via the contact button below or calling us on 0852737466.