Children do not need bedtime routines

Kathy A.

From the archives: Posted on 11th October, 2000

A Poster wrote:

“Children NEED routines, a schedule of events that happen throughout the day that regulate their lives. [My child] gets tired around 8pm so we start the bed time routine….washing his hands and face, brushing teeth, putting on jammies, reading story…then i hold him quietly in a rocker and let him drink a bottle of warm milk. Even if his eyes aren’t closed he’s placed in the crib where he falls asleep within a few minutes without protesting or crying.

I don’t believe this is coercive or harmful to a child.”

I don’t believe a bedtime routine need be coercive, either, as long as the child likes it, and is ready to have the bath, etc. If, on any day, the child does not want to do the routine, or isn’t ready yet to start the events that make up the “routine,” but the parent continues with the routine, it is coercive.

In case anyone has never raised a child without a series of routines, let me assure you, it is possible, and the child doesn’t mind at all. 😉 Again, I say a child does not “need” routines, but the parent may think they do. The easy way to determine whether a child prefers the routines is to ask them. If the child is pre-verbal, the parent can observe the child, and stop what they are doing when/if the child protests at any point in the routine.

If this isn’t addressing your idea that a child needs routines, please explain to us why you believe this, and what happens to a child who doesn’t have routines. I think I’m not clear on what you mean by “regulating their lives.”

Kathy A., 2000, ‘Children do not need bedtime routines’,