Does getting your little one to bed feel like you're trying to herd cats? Or is it a painfully slow process where you feel like your toddler is dragging their way through every task? Yes? Well, a bedtime routine chart may well be your saving grace then!
By creating and using a bedtime routine chart your child can engage in their bedtime routine which can go a long way to making your evenings smoother, less stressful and more enjoyable!
Routines and charts have been proven time and time again to be a highly effective tool to help children predict what's coming up in their day, making the transition from task to task much easier for their brains to handle.
So how can we create one of these magical bedtime routine charts and motivate our children to use it? Well, read on to learn all you need to know and gain access to my free printable bedtime routine chart templates!
What is a bedtime routine chart?
A bedtime routine chart is a printable routine that can keep you and your children on track when it comes to bedtimes.
For the older child, it is the perfect way to let them keep an eye on what is coming next and for you as a parent, it can ensure that you keep to a consistent and healthy bedtime routine that will benefit the whole family.
Why do you need a bedtime routine chart?
Having a bedtime routine chart that you and your children can refer to is a great way for you all to collaborate on the bedtime routine.
For your older child, it is important that they are included in the making of the chart.
Children love to know what is coming up in their daily lives and to feel that they have some control over their lives, so a graphic chart that you can refer to will help them focus on what is going to happen in the lead up to bedtime.
By implementing a bedtime routine chart early on, your little one will very quickly become accustomed to the expected sequence of events and that they are just part of what you do every evening.
When should you start a bedtime routine?
It is never too soon to start a bedtime routine. From the time you start giving your baby a bath before bed, you can lay the foundation of a bedtime routine that will in effect last for years to come.
The basic bath, book, bottle and bed routine can start from as early as a few months of age and the only major change will be the dropping of the bedtime feed. Otherwise, your child's bedtime routine will basically stay the same for years with the only minor adjustment being the final bedtime and even that will not change that much.
To learn how to establish a healthy bedtime routine, read my post on Hacking the Bedtime Routine.
How can we motivate our kids to follow a bedtime routine chart?
The best way to motivate your children to follow a bedtime routine chart is to get them involved!
Let them help you choose a chart or create one together. Having a chart that they can colour in themselves, if they are old enough, is another great bonus.
Use stickers, images and bright colours to help motivate your little one too.
Place the chart in an obvious position at their level so they can see it and this will encourage your little one to follow their progress as they tick off the different steps of the routine.
Let them take control by asking them what comes next in the routine, they will love this and you can occasionally pretend to make a mistake by suggesting they put their pyjamas on before their bath, for example.
They will love telling you that you have it the wrong way round and it's a great way to maintain their interest and focus on the routine!
Putting stickers or stars next to each stage as they complete it, and allowing them to pick the colour of the star or type of sticker that they want to put next to each step, is also a perfect way to motivate your little one to stick to the routine.
Ultimate Bedtime Routine Charts Printable PDFs
Below are my bedtime routine charts for 18 - 4 year olds. Each one is slightly different and is designed to fit perfectly with any family and lifestyle.
18 months to 2 Year Olds
Now... for children under 2 years of age, bedtime routine charts are not really that useful.
Most children under the age of 2 will not be able to follow a routine chart or understand the relevance of ticking off the different stages.
HOWEVER, THAT DOES NOT MEAN that a bedtime routine should not be established!
It just means that a bedtime routine chart will not be a useful tool at this point in your child's development!
Creating a bedtime routine is still very important and check out these articles to learn more about that and other common young child sleep topics:
- Hacking The Bedtime Routine
- Getting A Newborn To Sleep At Night
- Baby Won't Sleep Without Being Held
- My Toddler Won't Sleep Without Me
- How To Dress A Baby For Sleep
- Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?
As your child approaches their second birthday they may very well start to resist their established bedtime routine so introducing a bedtime routine chart at this stage can be a very useful and fun way to keep things on track!
2 - 3 Year Olds
Below is a free downloadable bedtime routine chart for 2-3 year olds!
3 - 4 Year Olds
Below is a free downloadable bedtime routine chart for 3 - 4 year olds! I’ve also included a BONUS chart for the morning successes too!
And finally, here is a blank template for you to create your own bedtime routine chart which fits with you and your family!
And there you have it!
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And if you have any questions about creating a bedtime routine chart or if you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about, be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know! I love hearing from you!
Thank you for reading and with love and support, until next time, Happy Parenting!