Managing your Children’s Bedtime Routines at Different Ages

Posted on 25/06/2021 by Anne Davies

Cute little toddler girl sleeping in big bed of parents. Adorable baby child dreaming in hotel bed on family vacations or at home.

When you have children of different ages, they will often need different bedtimes to suit differing needs and sleep requirements. Studies have shown that children’s bedtime routines help everyone in the family get a better night’s sleep; therefore, it makes sense to establish an age-appropriate routine for each child.

Make Sure Each Routine is Unique

To ensure all of your children’s bedtime routines are unique to them, take into consideration your children’s habits. For example, bath time is a common aspect of many children’s bedtime routines; however, some may not enjoy having their bath right before bed therefore it may suit you to bath them immediately after tea, giving them time to relax afterward.

Develop your child-specific schedule by beginning with what time each child must be in bed and working backward, taking into consideration what each of them needs to get accomplished before bedtime. It is a good idea to write up or print out each child’s schedule and keep this on the wall or fridge to be referred to as needed.

Here are some suggested activities to include in the schedule for each child:

Some activities, such as putting toys away, both children will be able to do together or at around the same time. Doing so teaches them cooperation and teamwork.

What to Do if Your Children Share a Bedroom

If your children share a room, make sure the child with the earlier schedule is not disturbed after they are asleep. To do so, try the following:

There are some advantages to having different bedtimes for your children. You can spend pre-bedtime alone with each child, engaging in whatever activity helps them prepare for sleep. Your older child may wish to have a conversation about their day and share concerns they have. A bedtime routine helps kids feel more secure, learn to follow directions, and build responsibility.

At first, getting into a routine could seem chaotic, however, you’ll soon notice how much easier it makes bedtime in your house and allows you extra time in the evening for your own relaxation time. Any parent can tell you a horror story about trying to get their child to sleep. Whether this is an odd night or a more longstanding problem, sleeping issues can be one of the most disruptive things in a household.

The Benefits Of Regular Sleep

So it will come as no surprise to parents that there is growing awareness of the true benefits of comfortable and regular sleep for children. According to the Sleep Council, establishing good sleep patterns make a real contribution to a child’s development, learning and growth both on a physical and emotional level. A lack of it can cause hyperactive, disagreeable and extremes in behavior. By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake and overall, a child will spend 40% of his or her childhood asleep.

There is an awful lot of information out there to digest on sleep, whilst no doubt your friends and family will all have their own views and experiences to add to the pot. So what is the best way to approach all this advice?

The NHS quotes “There’s no magical number of hours of sleep that all children in a particular age group need” and goes on to say that “Charts listing the hours of sleep needed by children can cause concern when individual differences aren’t considered.”

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?

The Sleep Council is happy to publish average figures as a guideline. Here they quote healthy adults as needing between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, whilst children and teens need even more:

Newborns (0-2 months)12 – 18
Infants (3 months to 1 year)14 – 15
Toddlers (1 to 3 years)12 – 14
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)11 – 13
School-aged children (5 to 12 years)10 – 11
Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years)8.5 – 10
Adults (18+)7.5 – 9

Source: National Sleep Foundation

Sleep Varies – The Bottom Line

We could go on – however, the message that is clear is to accept that sleep requirements WILL vary slightly from child to child and it’s also important to factor in any relevant differences.

Whilst establishing exact hours of sleep per age group may be a fact that all the specialists will never agree on, their opinions are absolutely consistent in terms of getting your child to sleep. Routine matters. A regular, calm and gentle bedtime routine, repeated at the same time every night, pays dividends and is vital for creating good sleep habits.

Happy African family on the beach during summer holidays – Afro American people having fun on vacation time – Parents love unity and travel lifestyle concept

It’s also essential that you put your child to sleep in the place they’ll spend the night. This makes the connection for your child between their bed, their bedroom, and sleep that will encourage going to sleep there. We know as adults that a well-decorated bedroom can aid sleep, so why shouldn’t it be the same for a child’s bedroom? Kids beds and the general bedroom furniture and atmosphere are crucial to sleep patterns. We hope some of these facts and tips may aid restful sleep in your household – sweet dreams!

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