Bedtime routines can either be your favorite time of the day (hello, quiet time!) or the most dreaded. Some little ones go to sleep before we can even get them to their beds, but for others, it’s an ongoing saga of procrastination—asking drawn out life questions and suddenly needing *all* of the water, then needing the bathroom stat.
We asked #TeamMotherly to share their bedtime routine with the kiddos and found that there’s no right or wrong way to put your children to bed. Routines will change with age and need to be updated in different seasons, but some mamas do have a nightly schedule down pat. Other mamas are winging it each day, doing whatever it takes to get some shut eye.
Here’s what they had to say about their families’ bedtime routines.
1. Snuggles are a must
“Pajamas, brush teeth, read one or two books, snuggle for a bit. Been our routine since he was 2 years old and he will be 6 this summer!”—Constance Mara
2. Nightly song
“Baths every three nights or so. Jammies, diaper, teeth brushing, read three books, sing a lullaby and rock, pray, and put her to bed by 8 pm at the latest. She sings to herself in her crib sometimes for 30 minutes or so before falling asleep. ?”—Audrey Myers
3. Family time before bed
“My daughter is 6 months old. Her daddy gets home from work at 7 pm so we have family time till 10-10:30 pm then the nightly routine begins. Bedtime starts with her daddy carrying her up to her changing table and says goodnight. After I change her diaper, I give her a warm bottle while rocking her to sleep while singing a lullaby. Once bottle is finished we snuggle in the rocker for about five minutes. I then move her into her crib where she sleeps soundly for the next 10-11 hours. She usually sleeps till at least 9:30am and then my day begins again.”—Lisabeth Kristin
4. What routine?
“Routine… haha! You’re funny! ?”—April Drake
5. Mom + dad tag team
“Our first baby girl turns 1 on the 12th ? After dinner it’s bath time by 7 pm (every other night unless absolutely needed), play with Daddy & Mommy until 8 pm, baby girl starts rubbing her eyes and showing us she’s sleepy. Mommy warms up her bottle while Daddy changes her diaper and puts her sleep sack on, Mommy or Daddy feeds her (we alternate every other night). She is passed out & in her crib by 9 pm, sleeps until 8:30-9:00 am and wakes up happy as can be! ??”—Casey Brown
6. Two minute warning
“My 5 year old has had the same routine for the last three years: At 7:30 pm, she gets a two minute warning. My husband sets a timer for her. She pushes the start and when it’s done, she shuts off the alarm and then goes up stairs for book read and then bed. No fuss every night!”—Sarah Gillespie
7. Review the highlights of the day
“Bedtime music goes off. PJ’s, teeth brushing, glass of milk, read two chapters while snuggling as a whole family. First chapter, kid gets a toy to fiddle with if needed. Then we talk about the highlights of our day and things we’re looking forward to tomorrow. Then snuggle to sleep. We have a definite start time for bedtime, but it ends when it ends.”—Christine Bruseker
8. Keep it simple
“It used to be like a reverse hostage situation. ‘I’ll take you to monkey jumping this weekend if you please just stay in your room and sleeeeep.’Now it’s quite nice. Bath. Book. Bed. ?”—Clarisse Espiritu
9. But mom, I need…
“Bedtime routine with my 6 year old? Let’s see… first there’s the struggle of getting him upstairs, undressed and cleaned up. Then I get him into bed and read him a story, at the end of which he always wants another story, starts jumping up and down in bed and threatening me with whatever he’ll do if I don’t give him another story—which I never give in to and he knows it. When he finally settles down again, I sing a song to him and say goodnight. Then it’s “mom I need the toilet.” Okay, go to the bathroom. ‘Mom I’m hungry.’ No you can’t be hungry, you had two helpings, dessert and a banana. ‘But I’m hungryyyyyy!’ Nope, not buying it. That goes on for at least five mins. Then he’s too unsettled to fall asleep, he’s tossing and turning and still thinking about stuff he wants to do tomorrow. If we’re lucky he’ll be asleep half an hour later.”—Marieke Ayoub
10. Questions, questions, questions
“Time to brush your teeth and go to bed. ‘Can I have a snack? I need to brush my teeth again because I had a snack. I’m thirsty now, can I have water? I need to go to the bathroom! These jammas are itchy. I need to change. Will you wake me up extra early? Will you sing a song mommy? I forgot to pray.'”—Athena Elliot
11. Flexible bedtime
“I have a 1 month old. Right now we start off with a bath if it’s bath night or just washing her face, diaper change, jammies, nurse during which I read her a story, then prayers and finally a lullaby. We then cuddle as her pediatrician wants her upright for at least a half hour because of her reflux. I tell her what we are doing next (not that she can understand it, but I’m hoping she’ll associate the words to the action). It’s just hard trying to do it around the same time every night. My goal is 9 pm bedtime but something always throws us off lol”—MaryBeth Klimek
12. Breastfeeding + bottle combo
“Or my 5 month old: 6 pm, warm formula bottle, change diaper, clean onesie, get into bed and cuddle while feeding. Then when she is finished the bottle (around 120ml), I breastfeed her until she falls asleep. The formula digests slower and gives us both more sleep, and she breastfeeds until empty most of the time too, so I’m not going to bed full.”—Scarlette McIntyre
13. No bath zone
“I may be the only one who doesn’t do baths at bedtime? My daughter hates them and it turns into a disaster so those are usually morning adventures.We started our bedtime routine three weeks ago for our three-month-old. We turn off all the overhead lights and most of the lamps between 6:30-7 pm. Around 8 pm she eats then we read and rock until she falls asleep! Next month we’re going to try putting her down and letting her self-sooth eeeek!”—Mauri Weidenaar
14. Techy bedtime
“Our new bedtime routine includes plenty of outside playtime to burn off some steam, followed by the usual: dinner, bath, pjs and brushing teeth. Teeth brushing and getting my 3 year old into bed used to be a major chore, including tantrums. Until we started using a cell phone projector story app! He easily cooperates with brushing his teeth as the story for his reward! At his age, regular books are boring and he didn’t want me to read them, but he loves Moonlite! It makes everything easier! I project the pictures on the wall so he can touch them and the app has fun sound effects on each page.”—Trina J Blackwell – Franco
15. We stick with what works
“For my 16 month old—Upstairs at 6:45 pm, quiet play time in her room for 15 minutes, bath time at 7 pm, bottle, and down at 7:30 pm! The ‘schedule’ has evolved timing wise, but the process has remained the same!”—Erica Moreno