Bedtime Routine to Help Kids 3-5 Transition to the School Day
If you have a preschool-aged child, you may have mixed opinions about them transitioning into school. You may feel like your baby is growing up way too fast! Kids may find transitions challenging as they come with big emotions that can overwhelm their small bodies. Fortunately, you can help your young kid transition to school days by establishing a straightforward bedtime routine. Keep reading to learn tips to help you and your child’s transition.
What Are the Benefits of a Bedtime Routine on a School Night?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that preschoolers get 10 to 13 hours of sleep daily, including naps1. For most kids, this means they must go to bed between 7 and 8 p.m. to get enough sleep.
A bedtime routine is the best way to help your kid get enough sleep, so they are healthy and rejuvenated for exploring their world daily. A good bedroom routine can mean the difference between a good night's rest and a sleepless night for both kids and parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, "It's almost impossible to overstress the importance of a calm, orderly bedtime routine"2.
Why a Positive Evening Routine Is Vital for Preschool Transitions
Studies have shown that a bedtime routine in young children is vital to their development and overall well-being3. A positive bedtime routine helps preschoolers with the developmental transitions that occur during their preschool years. Developing good sleep habits and adopting good sleep schedule sets your young kids up for success when they are older.
Try This Bedtime Routine on a School Night
A bedtime routine includes everything you and your child do to transition them from the school day or after-school activity and get their body — and brains — ready for a good night's sleep. Young children do not understand the concept of time, but they can grasp that things happen in a certain order. Consider making a bedtime routine checklist with pictures for your little one to follow.
Try this school night bedtime routine for kids ages 3-5:
- Ensure any take-home work is done (parent forms signed, etc.)
- Bath time [link to bath time fun article]
- Put on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Prepare clothes for the next day
- 15-20 minutes of calm play in their bedroom with dim lights
- Read a book
- Use the bathroom one last time
- Lights out
The evening routine will vary slightly depending upon if you need to bathe your child. Remember that young kids only need baths two to three times a week4. It is best to use kid-friendly bath products like Aveeno® Kids range of toiletries, that effectively cleanse without harsh cleansers. When you use Aveeno® Kids products, you can be sure that your kid's skin and hair is gently cleansed and hydrated, and hair manageability is improved. The Aveeno® Kids Face and Body Wash with oat extract gently washes away germs and dirt from the skin while retaining skin moisture. When you wash your kid’s hair, using Aveeno® Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner is a convenient one-stop-shop solution for kids with straight or slightly wavy hair. The Aveeno® Kids Curly Shampoo and Curly Conditioner work together to gently clean and provide more moisture to super wavy or curly hair.
Bedtime Routine Dos and Don'ts
As you develop a bedtime routine, here are some things to consider:
- Do actively participate in the routine with your child
- Do make the routine age-appropriate
- Do make the kid's room dark but not too dark (use a nightlight)
- Don't allow stimulating activities before bed (i.e., too much screen time)
- Don't wait until the child is restless to put them to bed
- Don't let your kid have caffeine (commonly found in sodas, teas, and chocolate) in the afternoon or evening
How To Make Mornings Before School Stress-Free Too
Solid bedtime routines are the foundation of stress-free school mornings. While your kid is getting the required amount of sleep, try to get some morning tasks out of the way in the evening before you have time to yourself. For example, you can make lunches ahead of time and prep an easy grab-and-go breakfast. Gathering the kids' school items (backpack, shoes, coat, lunch box, etc.) in one area by the door will help facilitate getting out the door in the morning. Once the preparations are completed, don't forget to try and schedule some "you time" to reboot before the next day!
- Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D'Ambrosio C, et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations: A Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016;12(6):785-786. Published 2016 Jun 15. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5866
- Cohen, GJ. America Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Sleep: Birth Through Adolescence. Random House Publishing Group; 1999.
- Mindell JA, Williamson AA. Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond. Sleep Med Rev. 2018;40:93-108. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.007
- McCarthy, Claire. Does Your Child Need To Bathe Every Day? Harvard Health Publishing: Child & Teen Health. September 20, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/does-your-child-need-to-bathe-every-day-202109202598