Bedtime Routines

Oct 20 / Jill Bertelsen

Secure, comfortable, and then sleep. This is formula to have our children sleep longer and deeper stretches. When our child feels secure and comfortable they are then able to release the hormone called melatonin. Once melatonin is released they are able to fall asleep faster and get a better quality of sleep. Whereas if a child is bouncing off the walls and two minutes later its time for bed. They are more likely to wake up throughout the night.

A consistent 20-30 minute bedtime routine is key. This is long enough for them to calm down and recognize it’s different than the rest of the day, but not too long that they get a second wind or get distracted during the process. You want to make it in their room so they recognize this is not just part of the day. It may be difficult to do all of the routine in their room if you have more than one kid, but try to make the last 1-5 minutes exclusively in their room with one of the parents so they feel comfortable and ready for sleep. 

How do we get our children to feel secure and comfortable when they are so energetic? Each child is different and this may take some sitting down and really planning out what would help them. Some ideas could include: 

  • Bath
  • Reading a book
  • Massage
  • Praying
  • Singing songs
  • Feeding (don’t make this last so they aren’t just fed to sleep)
  • Snuggling
  • Swaddling


What may work for one child, may not work for another. There is no set bedtime routine, just do what works best for your family. For example, my toddler gets so excited during bath time, it in no way calms him down! So we give him a bath and then play for a bit and then get into pj’s and start the routine. Be aware that if something makes your child hyper, it doesn’t need to be in the routine.

I can not stress enough the importance of doing the same thing every night. Being consistent can help our children switch gears from playing to calm. For example, as an adult when I go and lock the front door, change into my pjs, wash my face, and lay down it makes me tired and ready for bed. I do it every night, sometimes it takes me longer than other nights, but it is still consistent. As children, especially toddlers, get into a routine they are able to switch gears in their brain and really be ready for sleep.

To recap:

    20-30 minutes
    In their room
    Be consistent
    Do things that calm them

It can be difficult to do the same thing at the same time every night with your child. But having a calm and consistent bedtime routine can help your child sleep deeper and longer stretches.