Benefits of a Bedtime Routine-Sharon Swygert

In general, preschoolers need 11-12 hours of sleep each day. This includes naps.  While individual make-up may require a bit more or less sleep; it is most important that children develop good, consistent habits for getting to sleep.

A bedtime routine is a great way to help to help your child get enough sleep.  It will also help the child know what to expect and in many cases, be more cooperative.  Below are a few things to keep in mind when creating a bedtime routine:

  • Include a winding- down period during the half- hour before bedtime.
    Stick to a bedtime and alert the child 10 minutes beforehand.  (Incorporating a simple kitchen timer is helpful here.  The timer bell will act as a reminder to the child, thus reducing opportunities for verbal back and forth about what needs to be happening.)
  • Attempt to be consistent with other daily activities such as mealtime.
  • Create a quiet, cozy environment for sleeping; use the bed only for sleeping – not for TV or other active play.
  • Allow the child choices such as choosing which PJ’s to wear, stuffed animal or story to be shared for the night.
  • Limit food/drink intake before bedtime.  (This may be another use for the kitchen timer as a reminder of last opportunity to get water…)
    Consider playing soft, soothing music.  By all means, avoid watching TV to fall asleep.
  • Tuck the child in for a feeling of security.
  • Avoid lying down next to your preschooler until they fall asleep.  This may do the trick temporarily, but long term, will not help your child fall asleep independently – which is the ultimate goal.

Most children have the ability to sleep well and work through typical sleep issues. If you are worried about your preschoolers sleeping patterns, talk with your pediatrician. They key is to establish healthy bedtimes habits early on.

Sharon Swygert

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