Why having a bedtime routine for your child is important

Bedtime routines are really important for children. For as long as I can remember, we’ve always followed a set bedtime routine for our twins. 

Of course, over the years we’ve had to make some small adjustments, but now that our girls are four years old, their bedtime room is very consistent and has been ever since they were babies. 

We haven’t always read them a bedtime story. When they were babies it was easier to give them their milk, a cuddle and rock them gently to sleep. A bedtime story was quite often stimulation that they didn’t need before going to sleep. They’d get excited looking at the pictures and listening to the story. 

However, both my husband and I now cherish our girls bedtime routine, which consists of a bedtime story (or two!) every night without fail. 

Not only is reading to children really important to help fire their imaginations, increase their own vocabulary and help improve their listening skills, it’s also an opportunity for you to spend some quality time with your children. 

Did you know that the traditional bedtime routine of “bath, book and bed” could be consigned to the history books according to a new study. 

Researchers carried out out an in-depth study of parents into bedtime routines – and discovered 74 percent of parents now regularly give their kids a quick shower rather than a bath.

A further 74 percent of the parents who took part in the study, claimed their children preferred screen-time rather than a book before bed. 

A staggering 42 percent allow their children to watch TV at bedtime, with a further 28 percent allowing them to play on I-pads, phones and laptops. 

According to the report, 20 percent of primary school children now watch TV in their own rooms in the evenings, and 15 percent play computer games before bed.

And when it comes to ‘lights out’ more than half (53 percent) of parents said their kids have no set bedtime, while a further 5 percent say their children can go to bed when they like. In addition, 89 percent of parents admitted that they let their children stay up “too late.”

I’m quite surprised by these findings. I kind of just assumed that all children had a set bedtime routine. Knowing that some children don’t have a set bedtime and can go to bed when they like worries me a little. 

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman said: “Children need a lot more sleep than adults. Their bodies are growing, and their minds are developing. 

“Without sleep, they risk poor school performance, poor social skills and a range of other problems. 

“Above all, children thrive on routine. That is why having a fixed bed time (which can always be slightly different at weekends or on special occasions) preceded by a series of predictable events, such as a soothing bed-time story, is the best start to a good night’s sleep. 

Our girls know that when ‘In the night garden’ comes on the TV at 6.20pm it’s time to put pyjamas on, choose a story and climb into bed. 

Whilst we don’t bath our girls before bedtime, we always follow the routine above. Quite often the girls will want a different book each, which is absolutely fine. It means they get to listen to two different stories before bed. 

I love that time we have that time together. We’ll all sit on one bed, cuddle under the duvet and read them their books. They’ll cuddle in tight, whilst drinking their milk and they’re always asleep by 7pm every night.

They both love books and will quite often come over and ask us to read books to them during the day as well. R in particular has a fantastic memory and although she can’t read yet, she knows two books off by heart! She’ll come and sit next to me and ask to read me a story. She’ll ‘read’ it from beginning to end! 

Going back to bedtime routines, they really are important. My husband and I learnt this pretty quickly when our twins were babies. I think it helps children to know what’s coming next, what’s expected of them etc, but it also helps children to feel safe and secure. 

According to the survey 45 percent of parents said they kept a light on all night to stop their children being scared of the dark. I can understand the intentions here, but a nightlight is a much better alternative. 

Chris from LED Hut who commissioned the study of 1,000 parents with primary school children commented on the research: “The survey has revealed some shocking insights into children’s night time habits! 

“No fixed bedtimes, coupled with parents leaving the light on for their children all night means that our children are simply not getting enough sleep. 

“Creating the right atmosphere is important and lighting plays a big part in that, dimming the lights or using warm shade LED bulbs will create a calm environment.  

“Rather than waste electricity by leaving a light on all night, we would recommend using an energy efficient LED night light instead, which will prevent complete darkness but not interrupt healthy sleep.”

I found this research a really interesting read and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you follow a set bedtime routine for our children?

2 thoughts on “Why having a bedtime routine for your child is important

  1. Wow, that is a seriously interesting read! I am quite shocked by a lot of the statistics to be honest. I definitely found a good bedtime routine helps & although Izzy (2yo) can't tell the time yet at 6pm she points to the clock and says bedtime as she knows that's when we start our bedtime routine. They dont alway's get a story as it does tend to keep them awake, but we have LED lights in their room which we turn to red and down to the lowest setting for the last 15 minutes before they get into bed which really seems to help them settle down but they have always slept with all lights off. They do have the odd late night but never past 7.30pm (usual bedtime is 7pm) and not on a school night as Eva (6) really struggles with getting ready and focusing in school otherwise.

  2. We try to follow the same pattern of an evening but no set "time" really. We usually put him to bed by 19:30 but he doesn't always settle hence different times. As he is still only little (12 weeks) we do – change, nursery rhyme, milk then bed. Looking at books is too stimulating at the moment I think but once he's old enough to know what's going on we will definitely be incorporating a story! That's what I always had and no doubt it has contributed to my love of reading as an adult. Great post I've picked up some tips there I think for the future 🙂

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