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Create a bedtime routine for your child



A regular series of steps makes an orderly, soothing transition into sleep

Create a bedtime routine for your child


When you establish a routine, you're setting up a sequence of events that are followed consistently at the same time each day, giving children a sense of security because they know what to expect. Routines for various transition times (see our article on this topic) are useful, and none is more important than bedtime, when your child is settling down to sleep.

You will also benefit from a bedtime routine because it gives you necessary time to yourself after your child has fallen asleep.

Put a bedtime routine in place as early as four months of age and no later than one year. Jyoti Krishna, M.D., a pediatric sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, says it's best to put children down to sleep while they're still drowsy, not fully asleep, so they're not dependent on parents to fall asleep.

Here are more tips for an easy transition:

Slow down

About 30 minutes before sleep time, cut off activities that are stimulating. Turn off the TV, call a halt to running, jumping, and other physical exercise.

Shift to soothing activities

Move on to something calmer, such as a bath, reading a book aloud, a gentle massage, a period of nursing or bottle feeding. Try different options to see what works best.

Adjust the atmosphere

Most babies sleep best with a firm mattress, a comfortable temperature, and either darkness or a night light. Some like to have soft music playing.

Provide nourishment

Breastfeeding or a bottle helps prepare a baby for sleep. A toddler can have a light snack with both carbs and protein, followed by toothbrushing.

Stick to a pre-determined bedtime

Consistency helps train your child to fall asleep at a given time. If you keep changing bedtime, it will be harder to maintain naps and sleeping through the night. You might make exceptions for special occasions like holidays and birthdays, but the more you stay on schedule, the less stress there will be for you and your child.



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