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Bedtime Routines: 4 Core Parts You Need for Success

Sleep is so important.  If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have so many articles and books and blogs on how to get our kids to just go to sleep already!  

A big part of getting into sleep mode is setting the stage that the day is over and it is time to rest.  No parent wants to spend hours getting their kids into bed.  A good bedtime routine contains just a few basics that can be performed almost anywhere.  In my opinion, it should take less than ten minutes.  It can be made longer if you are all having fun playing around, but it can be pared down even further if needed.  

There are four main components to a good bedtime routine.

picture of a baby in bed with text: Bedtime Routines: The 4 core parts you need for success

How To Make a Fast and Efficient Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines should be fun and relaxing, but they should also be quick. The core parts can be done anywhere, anytime.

Sure, you can add more fun on. But these basics are all you need.

Pajamas

It doesn’t matter what the pajamas your kid wears are, as long as an outfit change takes place.  This physically shows our kids that we are serious, they are changing activities from daytime to night time.  Pajamas need to be appropriate for the temperature of the home and the child so they are comfortable at night.  

Keep in mind little ones aren’t the best at keeping blankets on, or shouldn’t have them at all.  So they might need warmer pajamas than adults do.  Most importantly these clothes need to be comfortable and safe.  Nothing that will tangle up at night, and nothing that will cause them to wake up uncomfortable.  

Other than that- I say whatever makes your kid happy.  They are more likely to want to get into their pajamas if they are ones they like.  I don’t find this to be the time to argue about texture, fit, or appearance.  Who really sees kids when they are sleeping?  No one, so who cares what they look like.  

My son loved one set of pajamas so much he wore them long after they technically fit.  He was comfortable, so I didn’t care.  He says something is too itchy, it’s gone.  They are the ones who have to wear it for 12 hours or so, they know what they want.

Hygiene

I don’t believe in doing a bath as a part of the bedtime routine.  It can take place before bed, but it isn’t a necessary component to signal that it is almost time to sleep.  That doesn’t mean my kids go to bed dirty.  That doesn’t feel good to anyone!  

For babies, a nice rub down with a baby wipe is usually plenty.  You can check all those sweet folds and get all the fuzzies out from those tiny toes.  For older kids I do at least a face wash, sometimes with a baby wipe too.  Be sure to check the feet if your child has been barefoot.  No one wants dirty sheets.  

This is when we brush teeth.  This is also when final diaper changes or potty trips take place. (Potty training time means another trip last thing before bed too. One more try never hurts.)

picture of sleeping baby with text 4 Simple Steps for a Fast and Effective Bedtime Routine

Prayers and Reflection

I know not every family is religious.  This doesn’t have to be formal prayers, or really any prayers at all.  This is just a good time to reflect back on the day and talk to your child for a few minutes.  

We mention what went well that day, and touch on what we still need to work on.  I try to reinforce basic behavioral goals and review the all the time rules.  

This is a quiet moment to really seek out your child’s heart and talk to them.  We do say our prayers during this time.  It doesn’t have to be a whole lecture period, just a few moments to touch base with your child.

Final Goodnight

I am not a good singer, but when I had my first child I couldn’t help but sing to him.  Studies have shown that babies adore the sounds of their parents singing, even if we think it sounds like screeching cats.  So I sing.  

Our final good night is the same songs, every time our children go to sleep.  For all the children we do Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Short, simple, to the point.  

I start singing this to them as soon as we bring them home.  Any time they are put down to a deliberate sleep time I sing this song to them.  I try not to sing it to them any other time at first.  This way when they hear that song they know it is time for sleep.  

If you don’t like to sing it can be a final set of words or a last series of kisses.  It just needs to be something that you can do every single time you put your child to sleep that you don’t do other times.

These four things make up the core of any bedtime routine.  The great thing about building your routine out of these four items is that it can grow and change as needed.  When our children are newborns, this whole thing goes pretty quickly.  Prayers are just a few words, and there isn’t much reflection with a baby.  

But as babies grow into toddlers you can use this time to reinforce any lessons you are working on.  You can add more to this routine if you have the time, no need to force it into as short a time as possible.  But in the times when we are short on time and need to get everyone into bed, we can quickly hit the basics in less than ten minutes.

Building a routine you can do anywhere is so helpful.   This is something you can start at birth and continue for years.  The details may change, but the core parts can stay the same.  This encourages your child to settle into sleep time, regardless of how long you spend on the routine or where you are.  

You can travel and still do your routine.  You can easily explain to someone else how to handle bedtime.  And as I said, my favorite part, bedtime doesn’t have to stretch for hours.  We can be silly and play, but still get into bed without a fight.  

With a solid routine, everyone knows what is expected of them, making bedtime enjoyable for the whole family.

A solid bedtime routine doesn’t have to take hours. There are four main components you need to build a bedtime routine you can take anywhere. Bedtime Routines | Toddler Sleep | Baby Sleep | Kid Sleep #baby #toddler #preschool #bedtime #routine #sleep #hygiene Team-Cartwright.com

Here are some more posts on sleep that you might like!

Twin Sleep- It Does Exist!

Maintaining sleep schedules on vacation

Transitions: Moving from a crib to a toddler bed

How to get your toddler to bed in less than 10 minutes. Easy bedtime routine for baby, toddler, and kids.

The Journey of Parenthood: Incorporating Mommy’s Needs in the Daily Family Routine
Mama’s Organized Chaos: Benefits and Types of Routines- And How You Can Use Routines Without Using Schedules
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: The Key Element to Starting a Routine

How to get your kids to bed without a fight.  Learn the parts of a solid bedtime routine that helps babies and children get to bed with ease.  No more fighting! #bedtime #bedtimeroutine #sleep #baby #kids #toddlers #naps Team-Cartwright.com

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Wonder Weeks can be a great tool. But seeing all those stormy periods can be stressful! Will my baby ever be happy? Learn how to utilize this information without stressing out. #wonder #weeks #newborn #baby #sleep #leaps #milestones Team-Cartwright.com
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Rose

Saturday 10th of March 2018

I have older kids and I usually let them know that bedtime is approaching. The kids then know they need to finish what they are doing or do that last thing they wanted to do before bed. Pajamas are one step close to bed although it's not the immediate step.

Amber Battishill

Friday 24th of November 2017

I agree that a great routine is absolutely necessary for an easier and simplified bedtime. Comfy PJ's are a definite (we've thrown a few out that were not comfy to my kiddos).

Ginny

Monday 20th of November 2017

I'm all about a bed time routine with my kids. Being a twin mom, I have to mean business of they'll want to stay up and play for hours. Reading is a big part of our bedtime routine.

kimcartwright

Monday 20th of November 2017

Oh my, with my twins routine is a must as well! It just makes everything work better. Reading can be an awesome addition to a good routine! I am looking forward to adding it back in as my girls get older. They think it means playtime now. But soon!!

Mama Writes Reviews

Monday 20th of November 2017

Yes, a consistent routine is essential for bedtime! That way, children know what to expect and it should hopefully take a lot of the drama out of bedtime!

-Mama from Mama Writes Reviews

Ai

Monday 20th of November 2017

These are the best core parts! I usually just pray over my son before bed but he’s getting to the age where I can pray with him too!

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