Something that I’ve learned about bedtime with my kids is that routine and consistency are gold. With my first born, we had the same routine since she was born. Dinner, bathtime, story, nurse and bed. She relied on a few different nightime musical toys that had to play the same tunes each night, too. With my second, we had a harder time getting into a routine because we now had two children to put to bed who had different bed times. Now, almost 14 months later, I feel like we finally have it down with both kids.
Set the Stage for Sleep
Start of the bedtime routine
- Think of the bedtime routine as special time with your child.
- Bedtime routine = natural opportunity to help your child learn ways to self-sooth, self calm, and self regulate.
- Start with modeling calming routins
- Make the bedtime routine personalized and consistent
- Minimize screens, if a MUST – put it as early in the routine as possible, at least 1 hour before sleep time.
Routine = Consistency
Be a broken record
- Our brains and bodies need associations to begin feeling sleepy. Similar to smelling a favorite food – mouthwatering. With repeated experience one’s body begin to expect it.
- SLEEP STATEMENTS are something a parent will say the same each night to trigger the brain/body for sleep time.
- The best shaped sleep behaviors have the same SLEEP STATEMENTS each night as part of the bedtime routine.
- SLEEP ASSOCIATIONS are things that can be seen, felt, held, smelled, or heard to stay comfortable and sleepy.
- Ask yourself, ‘when would I like my child to fall asleep?’ then start the sleep routine about 45 minutes before that with your first sleep statement.
- Bedtime routines work best if they consistently start within 30 minutes of the same time each night.
- Routine includes the start “Time for bed!” to getting on pajamas and reading stories through laying onto the elo and falling asleep.
- START with basics of getting ready as desired – go to bathroom, take bath, brush teeth, pajamas on, etc.
- Depending upon child’s age, it may be helpful to use a timer to limit these basics (e.g.,10 minutes)
- The routine should move step-wise through increasingly calming activities.
- Move the routine from one part of the home to another, ending in the child’s bedroom with 5-10 minutes of calm routine activities before Elo is turned on.
- Use reminders, words, pictures during the routine.
- Elo is just one part of your family’s sleep routine. It will likely be most effective when used as part of a regular, consistent routine.
- “Rewind-repeat-redo” – every night is the same
- Each time you repeat the routine, the stronger the association will become, the better it will work, the less stressful it will be and the happier everyone will feel.
Introduce Elo to Bedtime Routine
Time to introduce Elo
- Choose a sleeplist for your Elo – suggested time is prior to start of bedtime routine
- Decide if your child is encouraged by being part of the choice process
- Initially, be consistent with same sleeplist. Some children do best with same sleeplist repeating every night for 1 week at a time and then make 1 change.
- Some children do best with different sleeplist every night.
- Spend 5-10 minutes of bedtime routine in your child’s room before beginning Elo.
- Additional sleep associations to help with bedtime routine to consider:
- Aromatherapy (sleep smells)
- Slow deep belly breathing at same time
- Soft singing, prayers, read a story together
- Aim to focus on recent positive experiences
- Talk about what you are thankful for that day or draw/write in a gratitude journal
- Talk about what your child would like to dream about that night
- Talk about a favorite place for your child
- SLEEP STATEMENT: “Now it’s time to turn Elo on and go to sleep.”
- Gradually shift your physical location until child can fall asleep on their own
- In bed with child 2 nights, in chair next to bed 2 nights, in chair next to door 2 nights, etc.
- Use SLEEP STATEMENT: ” I will stay with you for a bit, but I will leave during this story. I will check in on you in a few minutes. We will be all done talking now.”
- When ready leave bedroom and peek head in after 2 minutes with brief signal (e.g., thumbs up, blow a kiss), no more than 1 sentence if you MUST speak (e.g., I love you, goodnight!). 10 seconds or less.
- Resist the temptation to answer questions or talk.
- Allow Elo to help you keep talking to a minimum. If your child lifts their head to speak to you, the story will stop and Elo will prompt them to put their head back down. Simply gesture and make the “shhh” sound and state “head down for the story.”
Free Printable Bedtime Routine Chart
Please take a minute to vote for us on Top Mommy Blogs by clicking this link daily.