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Establishing a Bedtime Routine

The 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 bedtime routine.


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 difficult?



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 cooperation.

You may be bathing 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 Power Toothbrush 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 favourite stories together.

You may choose to sing some favourite nursery rhymes or number songs. 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 Child Nightlight on.

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 sleep.

Why 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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