A routine for bedtime is just a series of events you follow each night, predictably. It can sometimes happen without you even thinking about it as just a sequence of things you do before putting your child down to sleep.
Routines can include things like baths, a new diaper, lotion, snacks/feeding, stories, brushing teeth, songs or prayers, books.
Just don’t make it too long because this needs to be sustainable! 20 to 30 minutes is a reasonable goal for the routine.
Keeping this in mind, it really helps you have to add another child to the mix.
Research shows that bedtime routines are associated with positive child outcomes including language development, academic achievement, social-emotional and behavioral functioning, benefit family functioning, higher levels of marital satisfaction, lower levels of maternal distress, and better sleep quality and duration!
Considering all of the benefits, and that implementing a bedtime routine can quickly ameliorate sleep struggles with your little one, it’s a no-brainer that creating a sustainable one for your family should be on your to-do list!
Creating a bedtime routine for multiple kids can be a little tricky so here are some main takeaways to consider:
- It’s okay to condense the routine now and then because going to bed on time is more important than recreating the routine the exact same way each night
- Divide and conquer-- if two parents are home at bedtime, share the load! Split it up between the two of you and alternate who does what.
- Consider an assembly line! Bathe them all together, lay out their diapers/underwear, the lotion you need, their pajamas, and toothbrushes to save time.
- Encourage independence. A younger child will need more help than an older child so make sure to set the older child up for success.
- Give your older children jobs to help with the younger children.
- Overlap what you can-- if you read books with all of them, read the books with everyone at the same time.
- Get creative with what your children do while you help the younger ones to sleep (reading books, puzzles, etc)
- Ensure that you’re meeting the sleep needs of each child; it’s likely your youngest child will need to go to bed before the older children. So keep that in mind when starting your routine!
Other ways to improve sleep include:
- creating an optimal sleep environment
- sleep training
- dressing baby for sleep
- recognizing tired signs
- more about bedtime routines
- white noise
- infant massage
Remember that a bedtime routine can make a huge difference in helping your little ones transition to sleep time. It can feel stressful at the end of the day to fit in a routine especially with multiple kids, but remember this is a connection point at the end of the day so make it happy instead of a burden!
Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 4 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!