“Dinner, bath, books, bed.” That was my mantra when my kids were little. They knew the routine once I started getting dinner ready. The moment the dishes were in the dishwasher I would bring them straight upstairs to get ready for bath time, and to pick out a book. Once the story was read, it was time to hop into bed.
It helped ME to keep them in this routine. (After all, a mom needs to be off-duty, too!) And now, new research has shown that it helps KIDS to have a consistent bedtime routine, as well.
In a multinational study, mothers of 10,085 children (from infants to age 5) in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed about their children’s sleep habits – both daytime naps and nighttime. They completed a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers.
The children who had a consistent bedtime routine slept better, longer, and woke up less during the night. They also fell asleep sooner than those who did not have a consistent routine.
Parents reported fewer behavior problems the next day in the kids that had a consistent bedtime routine. (I know that if I have not had a decent night’s sleep, I can be grouchy and irritable the next day. It seems reasonable that the same would be true for our kids.)
It is interesting that the results were consistent across many different countries. Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They all need good, solid, restorative sleep. These data suggest that a bedtime routine can be key in helping your child sleep well every night.
More good news
It is never too late to establish a routine. Also, this study suggests that the younger your child is when you start, and the more consistent you are with keeping up with the routine, the better the outcome will be. Plus, reading to your child has many known benefits for language development.
Do you have a bedtime routine for your child? How is it working?
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org
See other topics on how to help your child, here.