One of the 5 components of healthy sleep that I speak to all of my clients about is, “Having A Consistent and Soothing Bedtime and Nap Time Routine”. The importance of this routine cannot be emphasized enough by myself or the 50 sleep books that you can purchase on Amazon.
In my opinion, the reasons that the bedtime and nap time routine are important are simple. Children thrive on routine and they feel safe when they know what to expect. When a child feels safe and understands what is happening and why, they are more likely to follow the cues without much distress. In addition, routine can trigger the brain to move into the next phase of the day. Just like a preschool teacher rings a bell to indicate it’s cleanup and lunchtime, you want to provide a routine that indicates that it is time to be calm and begin the journey into sleep.
What your routine looks like is mostly up to you. My basic guidelines are that the nap time routine is a shortened version of the bedtime routine, that it is something that all caregivers can and want to do, that the bedtime routine doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes (not including a bath and nursing/bottle), and that it is consistently moving towards the bedroom where the child will sleep. No up and downstairs to play/get a snack/grab a Band-Aid. It’s bathroom (for older children), bedroom, lights out.
An example of a bedtime routine for a client with a baby is: nurse or give a bottle on a couch or chair outside of the sleeping room, go into the bedroom with lights low, change baby’s diaper, put on their pajamas and SleepSack, sing a song or read a book in a glider (don’t let them fall asleep here), place the baby into crib, turn on the white noise, leave the room.
For an older child I suggest they: go potty, brush teeth, go into the bedroom to put on pajamas, read a few stories, sing a song, turn on the white noise, leave the room. Again, nap time is similar just a bit shorter.
Please reach out if you have any questions and happy sleeping!