Menu

Why the bedtime ritual is a powerful moment of connection with your kids

Bedtime is perfect for providing the quiet space needed for kids to use their voices, express themselves, talk about doubts or fears, tell you about silly things that happened or share their favorite parts of the day.

Why the bedtime ritual is a powerful moment of connection with your kids

A consistent bedtime routine helps children sleep better and longer, according to research. Beyond that, bedtime rituals can be beautiful, powerful ways to bond and connect with young children. Scientists suggest that bedtime routines are largely composed of relational work that helps children grow their capacity for "communion with others."

Most parents acknowledge that the quiet consistency of a bedtime routine is comforting and calming for their children, but parents rarely reflect on the effect the bedtime routine has on themselves. At least one research study suggests that regular routines buffer/decrease parenting stress, which in turn has a positive effect on children's emotions, behavioral regulation and readiness to learn.

FEATURED VIDEO

Here are some of the ways bedtime benefits your kids:

  • Reading books gives kids the touch they need through cuddling and lap sitting. Book time also helps kids learn new concepts, language and pre-reading skills.
  • Brushing teeth and putting on pajamas helps kids build independence and skills for self-care.
  • Getting little ones that last drink of water, fixing their blankets and tucking them in reinforces your role as their nurturing caregiver.
  • Telling your children that you love them, that you're proud of them, and that you notice all the little positive things they are doing reminds them that, despite any conflicts or tense moments, they will always be your favorite people in the world.
  • Giving a good night hug communicates love and kindness without saying a word.

While all these are great, perhaps the most important bedtime ritual is taking the time to listen to young children.

Bedtime is perfect for providing the quiet space needed for kids to use their voices, express themselves, talk about doubts or fears, tell you about silly things that happened or share their favorite parts of the day.

Kids spend much of their days being talked to or taught, but it's also essential to create some space for them to lead the conversations. Listening at bedtime leaves room for kids to tell you the stories of their lives without the pressure of answering direct questions (like “how was school?" or “who did you play with at recess?"). It strengthens your bond and initiates a healthy conversation pattern that can persist through to adulthood.

Not all young kids spontaneously open up. Reviewing the day with them and leaving giant pauses in the discussion carves out space for your child to comment on the moments that really stuck with them.

The day-in-review can include:

  • Sensory details—“Brrr, it sure was cold outside" or “We really got stuck in the gooey mud on that nature trail" or “Wasn't that soup spicy tonight?"
  • Logistical details—“Remember how we weren't allowed in the deep end of the pool today?" or “I was surprised when the bus dropped you off late."
  • Social details—“That was neat to have Jane over today—she really liked your baby doll" or “I've been thinking about Joe's birthday party coming up—what we should get him?"
  • Emotional details “I was so surprised when Grandma stopped by! What fun to see her!" or “I was disappointed that the game was rained out today".

Reviewing the day can help kids process experiences and remember anything they wanted to tell you.

Wishing you many sweet dreams, and sweet bedtime routines!

You might also like:

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

FEATURED VIDEO

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play