The most important thing about a bedtime routine for your little kids is to have a bedtime routine for your little kids.

Creating a predictable, daily schedule keeps your household running smoothly, enables your kids to get comfortable and conditioned to going to bed at a certain hour, and gives mom and dad some much needed breathing room at the end of a hectic day.

There are lots of moments among the madness of bedtime that can be tweaked and managed to make the routine flow more easily. Of course, each age group brings its own challenges and transitions. Here are a few general tips that might help streamline the bedtime routine:


1. Start early. Once your child is sleeping through the night and is in her own room, introduce a routine that includes a bath, books, music, and quiet time. This will help your daughter get accustomed to the ritual and, with time, will make the bedtime routine a breeze.

2. Prepare ahead. There's always work that can be done ahead of time to eliminate stress. For instance, lay out your daughter's pajamas before bath, have a towel and washcloth at the ready, and have her toothbrush loaded. Make sure the books you want are accessible and the soothing music CD is loaded in the player.

3. Be consistent. Since you're starting something new and want it to stick, you must be consistent. Keep the routine intact every night — or at least as many nights as possible.

4. Self soothe. If your child is able to fall asleep on her own — and I highly recommend working on that — you can give her a hug and a kiss and walk out of the room. Teaching your child to fall asleep on her own — or self soothe — will give her the confidence to get herself back to sleep should she wake up during the night.


1. Involve them. Toddlers are always asserting their independence so give them jobs to do. Let them draw the bath, wash themselves, and brush their own teeth.

2. Allot extra time. Kids want to play in the tub so give them a little extra time to play and enjoy themselves. When the clock starts to tick, give them a 5-minute warning so they know time is almost up.

3. Give them choices. You can focus them by giving them options. Which towel do they want to use? Which pajamas do they want to wear? Which books do they want to read? If they feel invested, things will move much more smoothly.

4. Be firm. When it's bed time, it's bed time. If you give in once, your child will try to exploit that opening in the future.

5. Set limits. If you allow your child to watch a show or have screen time on a device before bed, set clear limits. If 15 minutes is the rule, set a timer and stick to it.

6. Expect problems. Little kids are always pushing boundaries to see what they can get away with. Once they realize they can get out of their bed at night, it can create problems. Explain the expectations to your child, and if she consistently gets out of bed and refuses to go to sleep, it might be time to take action. A punishment, like removing favorite toys and books from her room, might be in order. You can also set a reward system where she gets something special if she stays in bed for a set number of nights.

Elementary School Aged

1. Give them space. Kids at this age might not need mommy or daddy to hover over their bedtime routine. Give them leeway to prepare for bed on their own while keeping an eye on them. Make sure they're brushing their teeth and taking a proper bath.

2. Time management. Our youngsters are busy kids. They've got homework, sports, activities and even chores to manage. They need their parents to help them manage these demands and make sure they're on track to get everything done and get in bed at a reasonable hour. You can keep tabs on their homework progress and remind them that if they want a little playtime or television time before bed, they have to get their work done first.

3. Prep for tomorrow. The most important part of the night might be preparing for the next day. Make sure your daughter has her schoolbooks in order, her clothes selected and her alarm set. If there are other things that can be prepared ahead of time — making a lunch, preparing for any after-school activities — make sure those things are done, too.