We have had the same bedtime routine for Lincoln since he was about 6 months old, and it is one of my favorite parts of the day. When creating a routine that worked for us, we prioritized a few things:
Anyone can do it. It’s important to us that both Mitchell and I can put Lincoln down for naps/bed, as well grandparents or a babysitter.
It’s simple and manageable for those days when we get rushed and don’t have an hour for a big, drawn out bedtime. We can condense our routine by reading for a shorter time and not rocking him much if needed.
It makes bedtime a happy, pleasant time in our home. Most nights, Lincoln walks upstairs himself when we tell him it’s bedtime and begins to choose his books for the night. It’s good for his heart (and ours!) to end our day together in a calm, positive manner and we are so grateful this routine has helped with that.
The only thing that has changed over time is the omission of nursing, now that Lincoln is fully weaned. So here it is, our sweet bedtime routine!
- We start with a clean diaper and pajamas, and we usually talk about what happened during the day during this process. We try to talk to Lincoln as much and as often as possible, and this is a simple opportunity to build language development into our routine in a context that allows him to make connections to his day.
- Next, we brush teeth and wash hands. We introduced a toothbrush when Lincoln was super small to help him get comfortable with it (before any teeth had debuted) and it definitely has helped that process go more smoothly. We do have a teeth-brushing song that we sometimes sing too. Don’t misinterpret this as ‘brushing teeth always goes well!’ Nope, he’s a toddler. Sometimes he’s not interested and its more of a challenge, and sometimes those pearly whites don’t receive as thorough of a cleaning as I would prefer. But we do our best, and part of that is having a consistent routine and sticking with it.
- We cozy up together in the nursery glider and read books. Usually 3-4 (Lincoln loves to choose the books each night) but on nights that are rushed or he’s overly tired, we sometimes just read one or two.
- After reading, I turn on his white noise, rock him for a bedtime prayer and sing his “goodnight” song, then it’s time to sleep.
Lincoln prefers complete dark and his white noise machine stays on all night long.
This has been our routine since Lincoln began sleeping in his crib and has stayed the same during the transition from crib to toddler bed. We use the same routine at nap time, and try to keep things as consistent as possible when we travel, too.
Regardless of what bedtime looks like at your house, incorporating books that are engaging and provide opportunities for language development is so important! Here are just a few of our favorite night-time stories:
- It’s time to sleep, my love – Nancy Tillman
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – Sherri Duskey Rinker
- The Napping House – Audrey Wood
- All the Awake Animals are Almost Asleep – Cresent Dragonwagon
- Ten Tiny Toes – Caroline Jayne Church
- The Going to Bed Book – Sandra Boynton
- Baby Bear Sees Blue – Ashley Wolff
- Goodnight, I love you – Caroline Jayne Church
- Clifford’s Bedtime Story – Norman Bridwell
- Goodnight, Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
Have you read any of these books with your little one? What are your favorite bedtime books?