You probably know by now that one easy way to help maximize your little one’s sleep is to create a predictable bedtime routine. Routines help our children know what is coming next, so a bedtime routine signals to your baby or toddler that it is time to wind down, and to get sleepy. This can help greatly in getting your little one to fall asleep quickly.
However, not all routines are created equal! And if there are problems with your bedtime routine, then it may not help your baby or toddler sleep well; in fact, it may disrupt sleep and make it worse!
Are You Making These 5 Bedtime Routine Mistakes?
Your bedtime ‘routine’ is not routine!
Remember, the key to a bedtime routine is to follow the same predictable pattern of events before bedtime. That is what puts the ‘routine’ in bedtime routine! But if each day’s bedtime looks different, then your routine is not a routine at all, and you are missing out on the benefits that a strong routine has to offer. Focus on creating a pattern of pre-bed activities, and then make sure to follow it each night.
Your bedtime routine starts too late each night.
While many parents understand that the bedtime routine should contain predictable patterns of events, some miss a key element: the bedtime routine should happen at roughly the same time each night, in relation to your baby’s last nap. However, many families start the bedtime too late, pushing bedtime even later. Remember, it should take your baby roughly 10 minutes to fall asleep, so you need to lay her down ahead of time. Having your baby or toddler go to bed without being over-tired is crucial to creating a healthy sleep schedule.
Your bedtime routine has too much going on.
If you are trying to cram 8 different activities into your bedtime routine, you may be doing too much. Remember, babies and toddlers can quickly become over-stimulated, so if the bedtime routine is packed full of action, and if it requires you to transition between lots of different activities, your little one may actually become wound up, instead of calming down and relaxing. Instead, stick to a few simple activities at bedtime.
Your bedtime routine is too long.
We have already established that babies and toddlers can quickly become overstimulated; they also tend to become overtired very easily. So if your bedtime routine is too long, you can actually miss your child’s ideal sleep window, which means that by the end of the routine, your baby or toddler will be cranky and fussy, instead of sleepy and relaxed. Try to keep the activities you do right before bed (reading books, singing lullabies, snuggling, etc.) relatively short, and be sure to watch your baby’s sleep cues.
Your bedtime routine is too exciting.
Tickle fights, while fun, should not be part of your child’s bedtime routine. 😉 Same goes for any other exciting, “let’s-get-wound-up” activity. The activities that are part of your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine should be slow and calm and soothing, so as to promote sleep.