Tackling Bedtime Routines


Getting kids to bed can seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be!  If you are caring for kids and know that you will be putting them  to bed, it’s best to check in with the parents on their family’s personal routine before they leave.

Questions to ask parents:

- Do you usually read your kids books before bed?

- Does your family use white noise or music to help the kids to go sleep?

- Do you leave a light or a night light on when the kids are going to sleep?

- Are there any other night time routines the kids have that I should know about?

- Is there a special overnight diaper I should use before bed?

- Are there any favorite stuffed animals or blankets that should go to bed with the child (some kids aren’t going to sleep until you find that teddy bear!)?

- Do I need to turn on a humidifier, AC, or heater?

- What type of safety or monitoring equipment does your family use (ex. baby gate, baby monitor, etc)?

- What have your children’s experiences been in the past when new people put them to bed?

- Do your children typically fall asleep independently or do they need support?

- What would you like me to do if your children need support at bedtime?  

- For infant and toddler care, do they need to be bottle fed before going to bed and/or do they usually use a pacifier at bedtime? (Infants and toddlers should never be fed in their sleeping areas) .

Always follow the parents’ directions on their family’s bedtime routine, but here are some basic steps to get you started!

Bedtime routine:

Step 1: If the kids are wearing diapers, be sure to set out a fresh diaper and clean pajamas near their bed.

Step 2: If the parents have requested that you give the kids a bath, get a clean towel ready near the tub. Never leave a child unattended in the bath! For guidance on bathroom safety for babies and children, read up here.

After they are bathed, wrap them in the towel, help them dry off, and help them get into their pajamas. If they wear diapers, be sure to put a clean diaper on (if you need help changing a diaper, check out our step-by-step guide here).

Step 3: Help the kids brush their teeth.

Step 4: Depending on the family’s bedtime routine preference, you can bring the kids to their room and start any other routines the family requests. Some families like to read the kids stories before bed, others sit with them and talk quietly. Every individual family is different, so asking before a care session can be very helpful!

Step 5: Turn on any white noise/music requested by the family.

Step 6: This may be the toughest part - it’s time for the kids to go to bed. If they are older, be sure to offer them a trip to use the bathroom if needed first, and then it’s time for them to go to sleep. If they are a little younger, the parents may want them put into a sleep sack and/or rocked before they go to sleep. This is another time to ask the parents for their preference before the care session: sometimes the kids have night lights and all other lights off, others may allow a closet light to stay on for the kids.

Safety note: When putting a baby to sleep, always place them in their crib on their backs as recommended by the Association of American Pediatrics. Check out this link for a great resource on infant sleep safety.

Step 7: Give the kids time to go to sleep. This may mean checking on them after a few minutes to make sure they’re asleep or staying nearby in case they need something. Some families may want you to rock a baby to sleep or to check on them multiple times. Each family is different, so be sure to ask for their preferences before the care session starts!

Step 8: When the parents get home, be sure to give them a summary of how bedtime went! This will help build trust with the family and give them a chance to offer insight into bedtime routines for any future care sessions.