This ‘Best Products For Helping Kids with Bedtime Routines’ post is sponsored. As always, all opinions are my own.
I’m a mom to six kids but you’ll never hear me claim that I have it all figured out. Some kids are TOUGH! To be honest, our first two kids were so easy. We truly thought we were really great parents! The kids were well mannered, behaved wonderfully, spoke kindly, and were just all-around easy babies and toddlers. We were on cloud 9, thinking we had it all figured out. Then…along came #3.
He was content and happy for one week. Yep! You heard that right. We had 7 days of bliss and then years of hard work. He was a fussy baby and child. The same thing never worked twice to calm him. He had a ‘witching hour’ where he’d cry from about 6-9pm every single night. (Pretty sure we wore a path on the floor pacing the rooms with him.) Life was TOUGH. We fell off our high horse hard and realized that even though we were the same parents, it turns out that each child can be very different.
Routines Definitely Help
Years ago, we used to be extremely lax with bedtime. Because we homeschooled, I figured we didn’t need set schedules and bedtimes. It turns out, routines and schedules are absolutely beneficial, no matter what your lifestyle.
What’s Worked Best For Us Over The Years
First off, I want to say that while we’ve definitely become ‘routine people’, we aren’t so strict that we are unable to flex when needed. There will always be special events, impromptu get togethers, and other things that happen where an exact bedtime won’t be an option. So when life happens, we roll and then use these tools to the best of our ability.
1) We Take Cues From The Child
I had a friend who put their children to bed at 7:30pm every single night, no matter what. What I’ve found over the years is that some of our kids need more sleep than others. So what works well for one, isn’t necessarily going to be a great fit for all. We adapt! At the moment, our little Ruby seems to crave a bedtime around 8pm if we’re at home. She definitely starts to melt after that so we try to keep that in mind. However, if we’re gone for an evening, she is able to adjust quite well as she’s usually kept busy being elsewhere.
2) Regimens Can Be Calming
We’ve also found that our kids, and even our foster kids when we used to foster, do well when they know what to expect. Do some experimentation and see what your child thrives on. What’s working for our Ruby currently is:
- Free play TOGETHER outside (weather permitting) or inside (during inclement weather). I always try to give our kids some play time at the end of the day. Life can get busy and some days we don’t spend as much quality time interacting as I’d like. So before bed, I like to get down to the child’s level and let them lead.
For Ruby, that may mean wandering around the yard, jumping on the trampoline, pushing her in the swing while singing to her, or when indoors; playing dolls together or sitting on the floor and encouraging her to climb, slide, and play on her toys. (For the older kids, this tends to look a bit different. It’s usually playing a board game or sitting and having a great conversation.)
- Bath time fun to relax and wind down. Not only are baths great for getting the little ones clean, they are a fun way to continue play time while helping wind down. Ruby LOVES bath time! She runs to the tub as soon as I ask if she’s ready to take a bath. When she’s in the tub, she enjoys playing with toys, such as light up Glo Pals Lumi Cubes and Daniel Tiger Light Up Cubes. Another special thing we do is I tend to make up rhymes and songs or sing classics like ‘Down By The Bay’ to her while she plays.
- Start getting snuggly. Keep the kiddo WARM! As bedtime begins to near, I pull Ruby out of the tub and snuggle her up in a warm cozy towel. One of our favorites is the Little Unicorn Toddler sized towel. These towels are super absorbent and actually work well at home as well as for the pool or beach. The soft terry cloth on the inside feels great and the little pockets for hands can be helpful for older toddlers and preschoolers. (Pro Tip: I’ve always preferred the toddler size, even for infants! More towel just means a warmer, more snuggly way to dry off.)
- Pajama time. After drying off, Ruby LOVES getting into her Kyte Baby pajamas. These adorable toddler pajamas include a long-sleeved top and matching pants. They are truly perfect for storytime cuddles as they’re made from 97% Bamboo Rayon, 3% Spandex, breathable material — which means they’re super soft and comfy. I love how they stretch and move as I can see that Ruby feels absolutely no restriction in them. The best part is that they come in sizes 18 months all the way through size 10 so kids can enjoy ultimate comfort for years. These pajamas are seriously a favorite around here.
- Wrapped in love. Once Ruby is all ready for the final part of our bedtime routine, I wrap her up in her Little Unicorn Quilted Blanket for some snuggles. During this time, I focus completely on her. We play a couple little ‘games’ such as Pat-A-Cake and ‘where’s your’ (belly, nose, etc.).
- Make time for stories! Reading to children from a young age is so beneficial. As a matter of fact, it’s been proven that reading a minimum of 3 books a day to young kids will help make learning to read later on, easier!
So one thing we try to do several times a week, if not nightly, is read aloud to our kids. (Last year, I even read Harry Potter to the middle kids — ages 7, 9, and 11 at the time and they LOVED it!) While it can be easy to overlook the babies and toddlers, don’t! It’s so much fun to see a love of reading and books grow in them through evening story time with mom and/or dad.
- Recently, I started reading ‘This is NOT a Unicorn!‘ to Ruby. OK, maybe it is but THIS unicorn has a horn that can turn into the most incredible things – a magic wand, a helicopter, even a space rocket! She loves the rhyming words and colorful pictures. It’s just so much fun to join in on hilarious adventures as kids get to be amazed by this brilliant new unicorn friend.
- Another great new book we discovered is called ‘I’ll Be There‘ by Karl Newson. This is a calming, rhyming bedtime picture book that celebrates parental love through baby animals from all over the world. The book ends with a human element, showing moms and dads putting their babies to bed. It’s a sweet book that’s been a part of our bedtime routine for a couple weeks now.
- Time for bed. Once our entire routine is complete, I put Ruby in her ZipadeeZip and nurse her for a couple minutes. Then, I place her in her Mini Crib and it’s time for sleep!
Tell me, do you find having a routine for your days or evenings to be beneficial? What do your bedtime routines look like?