Studies consistently show that following a solid bedtime routine leads to better sleep for infants and toddlers. For kids in this age range, a good night’s rest can mean the difference between a happy, energetic child and one who’s on the edge of a meltdown at all times (we’ve all been there). Good sleep also means better focus, memory, mood and physical health. Best of all, more sleep for kids = more sleep for mom!
Building a solid bedtime routine is key to unlocking all of this good sleep potential while also solidifying essential sleep hygiene habits your kids will carry with them for a lifetime. Here are some excellent bedtime routine hacks to get you started.
1. Brushing Fun: Get Kids to Brush with a Singing Toothbrush
We’re not saying you should turn tooth brushing time into playtime, but we’re also kind of saying exactly that (hey, whatever it takes). Try pumping up your pre-bed bathtime routine with an interactive toothbrush for kids. Find one that sings your child’s favorite song or sends a sweet message to help encourage them to keep brushing. The goal here is to build positive associations and eliminate any of the dread or discomfort your child might feel in regard to oral health.
2. Next-Level Mom Hack: Use a Hands-Free Toothbrush
Here’s another brilliant way to improve bedtime for both mom and little one: use a hands-free toothbrush yourself as you get your kids ready for bed. This incredible little timesaver deep cleans the chompers, massages the gums and disinfects with bacteria-killing blue light, all while you work on handling bathtime or pajamas.
3. Bath in a Basket: Use a Laundry Basket in the Tub
This one only works with the really little ones, primarily babies and younger toddlers. Put a plastic laundry basket in the bathtub and let the water fill up around it. Place your baby or toddler in the basket with some of their favorite toys. This creates a cozy little water cove where toys won’t float away! It’s also a great way to encourage your little one to stay within a small area and not climb or get out of the tub.
4. Color-Coding: Assign Each Child Their Own Color
If you’ve got multiple kids, it can be hard to know what stuff belongs to whom, which can cause disarray, confusion and lots of arguments between siblings. A good way to combat this is to assign each child a special color and buy all of their stuff in that shade, including their toothbrush, hairbrush or comb, sippy cup, bath toys, etc. In the bathroom, place color-coded baskets in the cabinet or on the counter and fill them with each child’s own bedtime routine essentials.
5. Layer Up: Pile on the Crib Bedding
As parents of babies, we know that middle-of-the-night crib changes are simply a part of the job. To make those midnight messes a little easier to deal with, consider layering crib bedding—sheets, waterproof mattress pad and so on — so that, if something happens, you can just peel off one layer and voila! New bedding. This helps make those late-night wakeups a little less of a production so that you and your little one can get back to bed fast.
6. Prep for Tomorrow: Lay Out Clothes
Setting out your kids’ clothes the night before makes all the difference for your morning routine, but it also helps add some thoughtful structure to your bedtime tasks. Sure, it serves you tomorrow more than today, but isn’t that what a good bedtime routine is all about, anyway? On the same token, consider having your kids help you with lunch packing and meal prep before they head off to bed.
7. Eco Hack: Turn Trash into Bath Toys
Whatever you can do to make bathtime a breeze is always a bedtime win! Eco-friendly and economical to boot, this hack involves turning garbage into bath toys to keep your kids endlessly entertained without shelling out hundreds for those fancy bath toys, bath bombs and bubbles at the store. Transform an old plastic bottle into a mesmerizing bath toy by poking holes into the lid and creating a fun pour bottle. You can even take the bottom of old soda bottles and turn them into floating turtles.
8. Stay in Bed: Use a Sleep Canopy
When your little one is forced to stay in their bed, they’re a lot more likely to fall asleep on their own. There are tons of sleep hacks out there for how to get your kid to stay in their bed, but many of them feel downright weird and cage-like. A sleep canopy helps keep your toddler or little kid in bed all night without making them feel trapped or caged. Instead, a sleep canopy feels more like a special fort or tent, and we all know that is quite exciting for kids at any age (and, let’s be honest, adults too).
9. Lullaby Remix: Sing a Song Together
In the same way that a bedtime story can help your little one relax and settle into bed, so too can a special singalong or jam session between mom and child. On top of that, singing or listening to the same song every night before bed causes your child to create strong sleep associations with that song. In theory, the psychology should cause your baby’s brain to kick into bedtime mode as soon as they hear it. To make it easy on everyone, pick a song you can listen to on your phone and make it one your child isn’t likely to grow out of anytime soon. Bonus points if it’s something that won’t drive you crazy listening to night after night. Think: more The Beatles than Baby Shark.
Got any great bedtime hacks to share? As moms, we need to rely on each other and share our secrets, so let us know what you do to make nighttime go off without a hitch!