What Bedtime Routines Promote Good Sleep?
For those of you whom I've had the pleasure to work with know that I stress the importance of bedtime routines early on... "early" meaning as early as 6 to 8 weeks old. This is when babies begin to show their first social smiles which is a signal that they have the ability to start making associations. That means they are going to start connecting the few things you do before bedtime with sleep and get their little bodies ready for sleep.
As your baby gets older, these routines become even more important as your little one reaches his or her toddler years. Routines not only help signal that sleep is just around the corner, but they have been found to be associated with night-wakings or nightly sleep minutes among 36 and 42-month-olds. A study in the Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development indicated that night wakings among children ages 36 and 42 months were reduced when consistent routines were in place AND when daytime parenting practices were consistent (Staples, Bates, & Peterson, 2015). So, not only is your routine important but being a reliable parent or caregiver too.
In relation to the consistent bedtime routines in the study, parents mentioned the most commonly used steps in the bedtime routine were:
- read a story
- take a bath
- put on pajamas
Now, you can absolutely select what your 3 routines are for your home. It does not necessarily have to be the 3 steps mentioned above, but just a little something that will be YOUR baby's signal that it's time for sleep. Just try to avoid routines that involve screen time and snacks (Sadeh, et al., 2009). I personally really like the no screens before bed because the blue light wavelengths that we pick up from the screens can impact your little ones sleep!
Staples, A.D., Bates,J. E., & Petersen, I.T. (2015). Bedtime routines in early childhood: Prevalence, consistency and associations with nigthtime sleep. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 80(1), 141-159.
Mindell, J.A., Telofski, L.S., wiegand, B., & Kurtz, E.S., (2009). A nightly bedtime routine: Impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep, 32(5), 599-606.
Sadeh, A., mindell, J.A., Luedtke, K., & Wiegand, B. (2009). Sleep and sleep ecology in the first 3 years: A web-based study. Journal of Sleep Research, 18(1), 60-73.