Our Peaceful Bedtime Routine

Bedtime has never been stressful for us. Can you believe that? Honestly, I read other mommy bloggers and my heart goes out to them, because I hear just how frustrated they are trying to get their little ones to go to bed without a fight. So how in the world did we do it? Here are some bedtime tips that have helped us keep the peace in our home:

  1. We have a set bedtime {8:00} that does not change. Rarely he can stay up a little later than usual {especially a couple of weeks ago with his birthday celebrations and the time change} but we try very hard to stick to his 8 pm bedtime even when we’re on vacation or out and about.
  2. Create a fun and predictable routine. Kids thrive on routine. They love to know what’s happening around what time of day, and they love to have special routines to go along with their schedule. Our bedtime routine looks like this:
  •  Give him a ten minute warning around 7:45 that soon it will be time to pick up his toys and put on his jammies. Sometimes he’ll protest, but most of the time he’ll just give us an “Okay” and rush to keep playing. Without a warning, little ones can feel caught off guard and frustrated by interruptions in their play or activities.
  •  Around 7:45, we’ll start singing the “Clean Up Song” {from Barney} and helping him pick up. He usually jumps in and starts singing along and helping. We then change him into his jammies.
  • Travis will give him a fun 3-2-1 countdown to run in and give me hugs and kisses if I’m out of the room. He bolts into the room and gives me hugs and kisses and then Travis will “fly” him off to bed like Buzz Lightyear.

  • Travis reads to Little every night. He reads chapter books and right now Little has no clue what they’re reading. As he gets older, Travis will switch to chapter books that Bug can really get into, but for now it’s more about the routine and bond they have every night.

3. We allowed Little Bug to take some ownership in making the switch from sleeping in mommy and daddy’s room to sleeping in his own bed. I’m not a huge fan of character sheets because these trends come and go so quickly, but when he weaned from nursing around 18 months old, we took him to Target and allowed him to pick out his own sheets. He chose Thomas the Train {which we found on clearance} and could not have been more excited to start sleeping on the sheets he picked out.

4. He started out sleeping on a soft pallet on our floor right by our bed and eventually made the gradual transition to his bed.

5. When he gets up in the night, we quietly walk him back to his room. For the past year or so, we haven’t had any problems getting him to stay in his own bed. Occasionally when he doesn’t feel well or when the weather is bad he will still crawl into our bed at night, but usually if we gently redirect him back to his own room, he goes without any protest.

6. He looks forward to putting on his p.j.’s because we let him pick them out himself. Sometimes they don’t match, but he’s always so proud to pick them out and put them on.

7. We don’t allow any juice after 7 and we don’t give him any milk after 7:30. This keeps him from getting hyped up on sugar right before bed. As we start potty training soon, this will change because we’ll also want to limit liquids after dinner to prevent night time accidents.

8. A small nightlight in the corner of his room remains plugged in at all times to prevent falls and total darkness.

9. We leave our bedroom door open at night and don’t completely shut his. This way if we need to get to him {should he get sick or wake up scared} we can hear him, and if he needs us, he isn’t prevented from reaching us.

10. A lullaby CD has become our naptime and night time secret weapon. Little LOVES the Veggie Tales Lullaby CD and asks for it every night.

11. Little sleeps with the quilt I made him {which he calls his “Gwankwy”} and his stuffed Elmo every night. If he has these two things, he’s set. Sometimes a lovie really helps little ones who get nervous to go to bed at night.

12. A ceiling fan stays on in the winter and summer to keep air circulating. I started this when he was an infant because studies show if babies have moving air in their rooms provided by a fan, it can decrease their chances of passing away from SIDS. Little Bug tends to sweat at night, so the fan keeps him cool and comfortable.

The most important thing about our bedtime routine is consistency. We do the same things every night and Little feels secure in these routines. Bedtime is not scary for him because he knows what will happen if he does get up. He knows where we can be found if he wakes up scared in the middle of the night, and he knows that he won’t get in trouble for getting up. Find something that works for your kiddo and stick with it. Persistence is key when it comes to night time waking. For tips on getting kids to stay in bed at night, I love the gentle and effective Supernanny suggestions.

What works for your kids? Do they rely on a special story, routine, or stuffed friend to help them feel cozy and secure in their bed at night?




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