Sleep in Your Own Bed! Foolproof Bedtime Routines.

Now that school is back in session, a good night’s sleep is crucial for your child’s wellbeing. According to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, studies show that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improves attention, behavior, learning, memory and overall mental and physical health. *

For children who are resistant to go to bed, the solution doesn’t start at bedtime. By putting in place some habits in your child’s day, you can help them fall asleep and stay asleep in their beds.


Make sure that your child gets enough physical activity during the day. Think about exhausting their bodies so that laying in bed becomes a welcoming experience to rest.

Ex: go for a bike ride after school, play OUTDOORS! 

Eliminate electronics 2 hours before bed. The pixels of any screen time awakens the brain. By limiting screen time two hours before bed, the brain has an easier time winding down.

Create a visual schedule for their day and help them refer to the schedule throughout the day so that they know what comes next. 

Establishing a bedtime routine:

1. Have the same routine every night even if you are on vacation. This can include a story, game, reading etc…

2. Incorporate bath time and putting on pjs early on in the evening example right before dinner so that it doesn’t become a struggle. 

3. Add a fun activity to look forward to do before bed ex: child has free play after dinner (dressed in pjs)

Sleep time:

  1. Give them time in their room and bed before having to sleep. This helps them ease into the transition of being in bed for sleep and reduce resistance. You can have them do their free play in their room.

2. Establish a rule that if they wake up they must stay in bed. Give them a strategy to be successful at staying in bed. For instance, place a digital clock next to their bed and say when the clock says 6:00AM, that’s when you can come out of your bed. Help them pick a few items such as a teddy bear, book that they can use in bed should they awaken before 6:00AM

3. Provide a little night light to help them stay in bed if they’re afraid of the dark. (I also like to teach children to play with making shadows so they don’t fear the dark)

4. Give them an incentive to stay in bed till the next morning. We can make pancakes together for breakfast.

Should they wake up:

1. First sit down with your child and let them know that you are going to work on this together. Establish rules together for staying in bed. Let them know what to do in case they do wake up. ie. Can play with items they picked IN bed, read a book etc

2. Should they come to your room, let them know you will just walk then right back to bed. (If they do wake up, walk them back. No talking, No giving positive or negative attention)

3. You can also offer to sit at the door till they fall asleep but if they come out of bed you will go back to your room because it’s distracting to them. Then you can offer to leave the door open. Eventually you can offer that you are in your room and can watch them on a monitor.

4. Create an incentive chart for 30 days. Get them involved as much as possible in creating this. Don’t impose. I like having them pick a really good prize online. I print out the image of it twice. I cut one of the images into 30 squares like a puzzle and place them in a ziploc bag. The second image I place on the wall in the child’s room. For every night that they stay in their beds they get a piece of the puzzle the next morning. As soon as they get all their 30 pieces they can win their prize. Note: it has to be a very motivating prize. 

5. Give children feedback in the morning and work on strategies together the next day in case they were not able to stay in bed. What can we do differently?

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Hi, I 'm Nancy

I’m an Occupational Therapist (OT) with more than 18 years of experience and whose greatest passion is working with children of all abilities. 

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