Whether you’re a fan of formal nap and sleep training or attachment parenting and co-sleeping, we know you’ll agree you can’t beat a good night’s sleep.
Night-time sleep helps us re-set our internal clock and improves our mental as well as our physical wellbeing. The after-bedtime part of the evening is also, for many parents, the first opportunity to unwind from the demands of the day.
Creating time and space for a solid bedtime and night-time infant and child sleep routine can help ease both you and your child into relaxation and a better night’s sleep.
In this article we’ll be exploring the importance of a bedtime routine for toddlers and children. A nightly bath, bed, book approach can help you and your child to enjoy the end of the evening together, creating a break in the day for some quality time, improving night-time sleeping.
What is bath, book, bed?
Bath, book, bed is a bedtime routine that aims to improve sleep for the whole family. By setting aside time for bubbles, cuddles, and stories every evening, the bath, book, bed approach enables you to create a simple, familiar, and soothing pattern that calms your child after a busy day, helping them (and you) sleep better.
Why is a bedtime routine so important?
Lack of sleep is something many new parents are familiar with. It can make us tired, irritable and, as well as impacting our work and home life, can also affect our immune systems.
For children too, sleep is an important factor in regulating mood, health, and behaviour. According to the NHS, children between the ages of 3 and 4 need at least 10-13 hours of sleep each day. At 12 years, children still need up to 12 hours of sleep.
To make sure that we are all getting enough sleep, the NHS recommends we follow a regular bedtime routine to help us get ready for bed and fall asleep more easily.
By improving the quantity and quality of children’s sleep time, a bath, book, bed night-time sleep routine not only provides an opportunity for bonding, but it will also help you wake refreshed and ready to face the day.
What to include in your bath, book, bed routine
If you are thinking about starting a bedtime routine, you may be wondering where to begin. We’ve got you covered. Here are some examples of what to include in your routine and how and when to get started.
Remember: bath time should be fun
Making a habit of enjoying bath time is possible whatever the age of your child. Adding bath toys is a sure fire way of turning a boring bath into a chance for imaginative and interactive play as they squeeze, splash, measure and pour using stacking cups and colourful bath pipes.
For babies and young children, a safe bath temperature is between 37 and 38°C, anything warmer than this can cause scalding, even within a few seconds. You can be confident that the water is a safe and comfortable temperature for your child using a bath thermometer. Our Penguin Bath & Room Thermometer beeps if the water is too hot or too cold, keeping you reassured throughout bath time.
For parents of newborns and babies up to 6 months, a non-slip bath support enables you to use the big tub – particularly important if you have more than one child, while leaving your hands free while your baby is comfortably supported. A newborn baby bath with a built in seat and non-slip base is another practical addition to your bath time routine.
Make sure there are no tears when it’s time to wash your little one’s hair with a kids shampoo rinse pail. Specially shaped with a soft flexible edge to fit little heads, this is a great way to prevent shampoo and water in your child’s eyes from spoiling bath time.
When should story time start?
Ease your child into story time by introducing a bath book full of colourful pictures. Its waterproof, easy to turn pages are full of fun images to explore and characters to meet. BPA free and easy to wipe, this book is suitable from 0+.
Once your child’s bath is finished and they are dried and changed, it’s time to choose a book for your bedtime story. Ensure that you have created a calming environment, free from any distractions and cuddle in.
Reading together helps to improve your child’s vocabulary, but don’t be surprised if they choose the same book repeatedly. Research has shown that this repetition builds familiarity and predictability, helping your child to develop confidence in their own ability to read.
The familiarity of bath, book and bed helps your child prepare for what is coming next: bedtime. Steps like choosing the book and laying out pyjamas (or hanging these on the radiator to warm in the winter) help them ease into their night-time routine until it is time for bed.
Sleeping in a dark, quiet room can be a scary prospect for a child. A night light is one way to help send your little one off to sleep with a soft glow. Soft, calming colours from a night light like the Penguin Colour Changing Night Light can also ease them off to sleep.
Tips for bath, book, bed
- Plan, set aside time for the routine so that it isn’t rushed
- Accept that there will be difficult nights when babies and children are fractious and tired – don’t take it to heart
- If you have older children, involve them in story time too
- As your child’s love of books blossoms, add to your collection of stories with library books
And finally, have fun! Bath, book, bed is a treat – so make time for bubbles and bath toys, cuddles and stories together as a regular routine and enjoy lasting memories and a better night’s sleep as a result.