Establishing a Bedtime Routine
right amount of sleep is key to your child remaining happy and being
able to learn. If your
child finds it difficult to settle at bedtime, and you often spend long periods
of time trying to get them off to sleep, you may want to re-think their
How do I know how much sleep my child needs?
How do I establish a bedtime routine for my child?
Why does my child frequently try to stay awake?
Why is my child finding bedtime routines so
How do I know how much sleep my child needs?
The amount of sleep you
child requires will depend on what time they wake up each morning. To work
this out take eleven hours off the time they woke up. So for example, if
you child woke at 7am, then their bedtime for that day will be 8pm. Every
child varies in the amount of sleep they need but on average a five year
old requires eleven hours rest.
How do I
establish a bedtime routine for my child?
Bedtime routines are
essential for children, to ensure they get the correct amount of sleep
and are relaxed and happy. This time of day should be calm and relaxing
for both you and your child.
Remember to give your
child an indication that it's nearly time for bed, before starting their
bedtime routine. This helps them to prepare themselves and finish off what
they may be engaged in. For example, let them know that they have ten
minutes left of playtime before their night time routine begins. This
will allow your child to feel more in control and subsequently encourage
You may be
your child before bed, if not help them to change into their nightwear, visit the toilet, have a wash and
of course brush their teeth (a Children's
will make this easier!)
Next, settle your child
into bed, and offer them a warm drink. Milk is ideal as this doesn’t
contain any sugars or sweeteners. A trainer cup
is useful an avoids any
spillages during story time! You may also want your child to visit the
bathroom after their drink, especially if they are very young.
Offer them some
cuddle time and settle down and share a few short
You may choose to sing some favourite
This helps to relax children at bedtime and is also comforting if this
becomes a daily occurrence.
When your child seems
relaxed and settled, let them know it is now time to sleep.
At this point, dim the
lights, perhaps leaving a Child Nightlight
on, and leave the room.
Make sure your child is aware that now is the time to sleep and that
they must stop playing
with any toys. Try not to engage your child in a discussion about
bedtime, but instead, have a phrase such as ‘Goodnight’ or ‘Sleep tight’
which indicates to them it is time to sleep and you don’t want to
have a chat. Be firm but fair.
If you child is anxious
in the dark, you may leave a landing or hall way light on, and leave
their door open ajar with the
Stick to your new
routine and preserve, even if it may seem difficult, this is crucial if
you want results.
Why does my
child frequently try to stay awake?
Often children try
really hard to stay up at night even though they may actually appear
exhausted and need the sleep. This is often due to them not wanting to
miss anything going on around them, for example, if you have friends
over or are doing something outside of the normal everyday routine. Make
sure you have a bedtime routine which you follow to so your
child knows what is expected of them. On some occasions there may be
exceptions, but make sure you explain these to your child, so they know
you are still in control of their bedtime.
Avoid having a TV or DVD
player in your child’s bedroom as this is likely to interfere with their
bedtime routine and they are likely to request to have it on before
bed. Similarly computer and video games are not helpful as they
stimulate your child and therefore make it harder for them to settle down to
is my child finding bedtime routines so difficult?
Once you have settled
your child into bed, and said ‘Goodnight’ make sure they stay in bed and
try to ignore any excuses they may give you to get up, by ensuring there is
water in the room and they have access to the bathroom.
Often children will
complain they are suddenly 'hungry' or can’t sleep. Repeat you bedtime
routine briefly; by putting them back into bed, and keeping any
discussions to a minimum, thus making it clear to your child, that you
expect them to sleep now. By chatting to your child and pleading and
persuading them to go to bed, it will become more difficult you both, so
try to avoid this. Leave the room, once they have everything they need
and let them try and settle themselves to sleep.
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