How to Build a Peaceful Bedtime Routine for Little Ones

How to Build a Peaceful Bedtime Routine for Little Ones

Getting your child to sleep can be incredibly difficult.

Studies show that as many as 20% to 30% of babies and toddlers have trouble sleeping. And every parent has surely dealt with tantrums, endless negotiations, and other nightly challenges that delay your child's bedtime. 

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Quality sleep is essential for your child's well-being, playing a huge role in how your child grows, learns, and develops. Kids who get enough sleep are typically healthier, do better in school, and are more well-behaved. 

Let's explore 8 effective strategies to establish a calm and soothing bedtime routine for your little one. 

relaxing activity

Wind Down With Relaxing Activities

After a day filled with activities and excitement, it's important to help your child wind down before bedtime and ease them into a peaceful night's rest. Engaging in relaxing nighttime activities can signal to their active body and mind that it's time to get ready for sleep. 

One great way to do this is by reading them a bedtime book. It's not only a way to promote calmness and relaxation, but also a great opportunity for bonding time between you and your little one. 

For younger children, try encouraging them to engage in quiet play, such as stacking blocks or coloring with crayons. Playing some soft music or lullabies in the background can also help create a relaxing atmosphere conducive to sleep. 

Limit Screen Time at Night

It's crucial to keep an eye out on how much time your child spends in front of screens, especially at night.

Stimulating activities such as playing video games or watching T.V. before bed can make it tough for your child to fall asleep. The bright lights and exciting content can keep their brains hyper-active when they should be winding down for bedtime.

To help them get ready for sleep, set some rules about screen time at night, and encourage them to do something calming instead, such as reading a book or playing quietly.  


Give Them a Warm Bath

A warm bath can work wonders to help your child relax and unwind before bedtime.

The soothing warmth of the water not only cleanses their body, but also helps to soothe their muscles and calm their mind. It's a chance for them to enjoy some screen-free fun with bubbles or toys.

Plus, when your baby steps out of the bath, their body temperature cool downs quickly, which can actually help them fall asleep more easily.

Bonus Tip: You can even give your infant a gentle massage after the bath to promote further relaxation. 

Dim the Lights 

Turning the lights down low before bedtime can help prepare your child for a good night of rest. 

Babies and infants are especially sensitive to light, and exposure to brightness can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals to the brain that it's time to sleep at night. 

By dimming the lights in your child's room, you create a soothing atmosphere that encourages them to feel sleepy and get ready for bed. In this calming environment, they may even be able to drift off to sleep naturally — without you having to coax or persuade them. 

carepod nursery

Use a Cool-Mist Humidifier 

A cool-mist humidifier can be a game-changer in promoting a comfortable sleep environment for your child. 

Babies and infants have particularly sensitive respiratory systems, and dry air can cause a number of issues for their throats and nasal passages. 

A humidifier adds moisture into the surrounding air, helping to alleviate the discomfort caused by dry air. This not only helps them breathe easier, but also may reduce symptoms such as congestion and coughing, which might otherwise disturb their sleep routine. 

As Washington University pediatrician Jennifer Foersterling explains, “the humidified air keeps the nasal passages moist and mucus less sticky,” leading to easier breathing and often better sleep

Additionally, the gentle hum of a humidifier can produce a soothing white noise, masking other disruptive sounds to help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

Notes: While any humidifier provides relief from dry air, a cool-mist humidifier is the safest option for your little one. It doesn't require a heating element, which may pose a burn risk to young children.

Turn On a Night Light

A night light can create a cozy and comfortable environment for your child's sleep, especially if they're afraid of the dark. The gentle glow can help alleviate their fears and foster a sense of security as they drift off to sleep. 

Night lights also make it easier to navigate the room if they wake up during the night. This reduces the chances of them feeling disoriented or scared, minimizing disruptions to their sleep and allowing them to settle back down more easily. They may not even feel the need to call out for help, allowing you to get a better night's rest as well.

Using a night light also means that your child won't need to turn on bright overhead lights if they need to see their surroundings, which can interrupt their sleep patterns and make it more difficult to fall back asleep. 

Avoid Snacks Before Bedtime

It's best to avoid feeding your little one right before they sleep. Large meals or snacks close to bedtime can lead to discomfort and indigestion, which may disrupt their sleeping patterns. 

Instead, make sure that your child's last meal of the day is at least an hour or two before bedtime to give their body enough time to process the food. If they're especially hungry, then choose a light, easy-to-digest snack such as yogurt, apple slices, or crackers with cheese. These kinds of foods won't make them feel too full or upset their stomach. 

And of course, steer clear of anything with caffeine or lots of sugar, as kids can be very sensitive to these kinds of stimulants. (So unfortunately for them, no soda or candy before bedtime!)

Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Everyone's body has a circadian rhythm, and babies and infants are especially sensitive to changes and disruptions in their sleep routine.

Consistency helps regulate your child's internal clock, making it easier for them to get ready for bed and enjoy a peaceful night of rest.

It's important to choose a bedtime that works for you and your little one, and aim to stick to it every night.

Establishing a nightly routine, such as singing the same lullaby or reading the same bedtime story every night, can further reinforce this consistency and even build a sense of security as your child drifts off into a peaceful night of sleep.