Mastering Bedtime Routine: A Parent’s Guide for Children Aged 1-3 Years

A consistent bedtime routine is important for the healthy development of children aged 1-3, as it helps in their brain development, regulates mood, behavior and well-being, and leads to better academic performance and fewer behavioral issues.

A good night’s sleep starts with building a consistent bedtime routine: Master it, and watch your child thrive.

As parents, we all know the struggles of getting our little ones to bed. The endless tantrums, the never-ending bedtime stories, and the constant pleading for “just five more minutes.” But did you know that having a consistent bedtime routine for children aged 1-3 years old is crucial for their overall health and development? Not only does it regulate their internal clock, but it also plays a significant role in their cognitive, emotional, and physical growth. In this guide, we’ll show you how to master your child’s bedtime routine and highlight the importance of a consistent sleep schedule.

During the first three years of life, a child’s brain is developing rapidly. Adequate sleep is crucial for this development as it allows the brain to process and consolidate information and learning from the day. It also helps in regulating a child’s mood, behavior, and overall well-being. Studies have shown that children who have consistent sleep patterns tend to have better attention spans, perform better academically, and have fewer behavioral issues

So, how can you establish and maintain a consistent bedtime routine for your child? Here are a few tips:

1. Use a visual schedule:

Create a visual schedule of the bedtime routine that your child can understand. For this age group, (1-3 years) This can be in the form of pictures or symbols that represent each activity, such as a bathtub for bath time, and a book for reading time.

Child using ipad to create a bedtime routine

This helps children understand the sequence of events and anticipate what’s coming next. And let’s be real, if they can’t read yet, they are not going to understand a written schedule. Give them a thumbs up on the Thumsters Parenting App (iOS / Android) each time they complete a task, this helps with consistency and developing healthy habits! Pre schoolers love the images and sounds on the app, and positive affirmation is one of the number one ways young minds learn.

2. Incorporate a lovey:

A lovey, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, can provide comfort, familiarity and security for your child during bedtime. Allow your child to pick out their own lovey, and make it a part of the bedtime routine, such as giving it a goodnight kiss before bed. But be warned, this may mean that you also have to kiss a dirty sock or a half-chewed toy….

Nightlight next to bed for 1-3 old child

3. Use a nightlight:

A soft light in the room can provide a sense of comfort and security for your child during the night. You can also consider getting a nightlight that projects stars or lullabies on the ceiling, which can help soothe your child to sleep. Or if you’re feeling extra fancy, a nightlight that projects a hologram of the solar system in their room for an educational twist! Find our faves here.

4. Make a special song or rhyme:

Create a special song or rhyme that you sing or say to your child before bed. This can be something as simple as “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” or a special song that you make up. This can become a special ritual that your child will look forward to every night. And if you’re feeling extra creative, you can even make up a song about their favourite toy or character.

Father reading bedtime story to children to improve their sleep

5. Incorporate a bedtime story:

Reading a bedtime story to your child can not only be a fun bonding activity but also help them to relax and unwind before bed. You can even make it more interactive by asking your child questions about the story or having them act out their favorite parts. Or even better, make the story about them and their adventures of the day. Find out more in this scientific study. Benefits of reading regularly to your child include:

·     Encourages creativity
·     Grows Family bonds and connections
·     Improves language and cognitive brain function
·     Promotes attention span
·     Teaches morals through story and characters
·     Improves concentration
·     Develops a lifelong love and habit of reading

6. Give them a warm bath:

The warm water will help to relax the muscles and soothe your child’s body. You can also add some lavender essential oil to the water to create a calming atmosphere. And if your child is feeling extra wild, you can even add some bubbles and make it a bubble bath.

Mother giving young child massage to have a good sleep

7. Relax your kids with a massage:

Give your child a gentle massage before bed, using a calming lotion or oil. This will help to relax them and prepare them for sleep. And if your child is feeling extra cooperative, you can even teach them how to give you a massage too.

8. Create a special bedtime ritual:

Create a special bedtime ritual that you do every night with your child, such as saying goodnight to their stuffed animals, or tucking them in with a special blanket. This will become a special tradition that your child will look forward to every night. And if you’re feeling extra silly, you can even add a secret handshake or a dance to the ritual.

9. Use Parenting tools such as the Thumsters Parenting App (iOS / Android).

Offer your child a thumbs up can help motivate your babe to stay in their own bed and enjoy falling asleep. Make it fun and tell your child he/she can also give their ‘lovey’ or comfort toy a thumbs up in the morning too for staying in bed! Kids love ‘being in charge’ and it helps them take accountability and develop good bedtime habits. We’ve had HEAPS of great reviews from parents who have had great success with using Thumsters to help their kids stay in bed and develop good bedtime routines.

Bedtime is changed forever! I cannot recommend this app enough. It has changed bedtime with our kids forever. We have gone from multiple issues at bedtime and our little girl trying to delay it as long as possible to a quick and easy bedtime. She is so eager to earn a thumbs up to get her reward. It has also massively helped with keeping her in her own bed at night. Tonight will be night 10 of her staying in her own bed all night long! You have to get this app! It will change your family.” – Shae Berrigan.

By incorporating these unique tips into your child’s bedtime routine, you’ll be able to establish a consistent sleep schedule and help your child feel relaxed and calm before bedtime.

Want some more tips? Check out our blog on how to get kids to sleep in their own bed for more general information.

Improve your Bedtime Routine today!