How to Create a Stress Free Bedtime Routine

bedtime Apr 20, 2021

Stressfree Bedtime  = a comforting end to the day where toddlers, preschoolers, and young children confidently get in bed and fall asleep peacefully.

Let's start with your current routines in the late afternoon and evening... 

What time is your bedtime and why?

Is it a time you have set for your family or a time you have set for your child based on their sleepy cues and/or awake times.

Norms- Check out typical night sleep needs by age and when your child should go to bed... CLICK HERE

Mood- Make note of your child's cues before and after dinner.

1.  Is your child in a great mood?

2.  Does your child start to get fussy at a certain time?  Fall asleep nursing or bottle?  Has tantrums at bathtime?

3.  Does your child seem to get a burst of energy at a certain time of the night?

Now that you know the sleep norms for your child's age...

How much do you think your child needs each day to be their best self? 

Perfect world sleep = Day Sleep + Night Sleep.  (Every day is not a perfect day for a young child but knowing what their individual sleep needs are at each stage is very helpful.)

Routine --  What does a routine need to be?

What does your child need to soothe aka Calm and Organize their body for sleep?

Does your child struggle to calm his body?  Do you need help answering this question?  Schedule a Free 15 minute Call

Yes, then we need to add calming activities.

No, then you are all set.

Does your child have a soother that they then need again multiple times in the night?  Milk, laying with parent, etc.  Then it is time to move away from this pattern.  Need a plan for this?  I can help... Schedule a Free 15 minute Call

Does your child know your expectations at bedtime?

Does your body language communicates confidence to your child?

Comforting & cozy

As the parent, are you in control of the bedtime routine?  If your child throws a curveball into the routine, do you remain calm and answer their test?

Is your routine simple enough that it is repeatable when you are exhausted, swamped at work, spent, or have a caregiver doing it?

Missing piece

For 3-5 year olds, have you equipped them with skills to cope when they wake in the night?


For example, let's say your 4 year old needs 11 hours of sleep a day to be his best self and is not offered a nap at school.  Currently you are struggling with bedtime and he is sleeping 9pm to 6:30am with one brief wake up.  He is only getting 9.5 hours of sleep.  Sleep norms are 10-13 hours for 4-5 year olds.  Working to move bedtime up according to his cues in the evening will help stretch his night sleep.  Using the Sleep Rules Chart to build his confidence in the new routine and help him learn his job of working to calm his body for sleep each night.

Setting your child up for success at bedtime is crucial for maintaining independent healthy sleep routines throughout the years.  It's normal for children to test at bedtime or for routines to get off track with travel or illness.  If bedtime is not working, reflect on your current patterns, decide what changes need to be made and give yourself and your child 3 days to get back to their confident bedtime selves.  



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