A Bed time Routine that Works for Us

A bedtime routine that works for us feature

I have written about our bed time routine quite a bit. It is an extremely important part of our day and one that we prioritise over most things. As a neurodiverse family we are, perhaps, a little more rigid with our routines than some families. Sticking to our routine does sometimes restrict us in things we can and can’t do. However, it also means that the whole family has come to cherish the bath, book and bed routine. Bed time is family time and, as a result, we almost always have a calm and relaxed bed time routine – and we all get more sleep because of it! Bath time has also always been a multi-sensory experience for us – a time for relaxing sights, sounds and smells. Johnson’s bed time products have been a part of that routine since Biggest and Littlest were tiny.

The Benefits of a Multi-sensory Bath time and Bed time

Did you know that bath time, including a warm bath followed by massage and quiet activities, is scientifically proven to improve quality and quantity of sleep in babies? In the first 3 years of life, every interaction can help shape a baby’s developing brain. The everyday rituals parents create become more powerful when multiple senses, such as smell and touch, are stimulated. These are just some of the benefits parents may see, when using a regular bed time routine that stimulates their little one’s senses:

  • Reduces stress in babies and parents
  • Improves weight gain
  • Improves maternal mood and anxiety
  • Creates memory for language development
  • Improves heart rate
  • Promotes bonding
  • Influences emotion and memory in the brain
  • Promotes relaxation and enhances mood for babies and parents
  • Stimulates learning when combined with touch
  • Facilitates early communication
  • Demonstrates enhanced neural processing
  • Provides foundation for social development¹

Graph of cortisol levels in parents and babies, scented bath time vs no scent

As you can see from the graph on the left, there is evidence to support the idea that both parents and babies have reduced levels of Cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) during a scented bath time.²

When we first started our routine, we did not really have a deeper knowledge of how important those bonding moments were in terms of a baby’s development. We just knew  that we enjoyed the routine and the time together. As it turned out, Biggest needs routine even more than many children. Upon reflection, I do not think we can underestimate how much our routine and the sensory elements of the routine, have helped him.

Bathtime - bath, book, bed with booktrust bed time routine

How Our Bed Time Routine has Evolved

As the children have grown, we have adjusted our bed time routine, bit by bit, to grow and evolve with us as a family. When Biggest was born, I would bath him and have quiet and massage time, before feeding him in his darkened, quiet room. As a tiny baby, he started off in our room, and then we adapted the routine for his room. We found out very early on that Biggest really struggled to sleep without gentle noise stimulation. In fact, that has carried on to this day. When he was tiny we used to play a radio on classic fm quietly for him. These days he has a specialist white noise machine, designed for this exact purpose.

Many children would not like this noise at bed time but Biggest is autistic and a sensory seeker. As a result, he needs this gentle background noise to sleep. He also has all manner of sensory aids in his room – gentle lamps and a solar system projector included. He continues to use Johnson’s bed time wash and lotion before bed, adding sleepy scents to the sensory stimuli that help him to relax and drift off.

Biggest in bed for hid bed time routine

Johnson's bed time range

When Littlest was born, we slowly transitioned to Biggest having a story in bed after his sister was asleep. These days, both children have baths, and occasionally showers, and then go off into their rooms for stories, songs and quiet sensory time before bed. Both have stuffed toys that they always take to bed too.

The bed time routine starts at 7pm in our house. At 7.30, Matt and I leave them to fall asleep in their own beds.

Littlest in bed

Littlest’s personalised dressing gown has become a real favourite of hers during the bed time and morning routine. It was gifted to us as part of our role as Johnson’s Ambassadors by the delightful My 1st Years. Check them out for more beautiful personalised items.

What are your hints and tips for a relaxing and stress-free bedtime routine? How has your bed time routine evolved as your children have grown? I would love to hear what works for other families.

And here’s to a bed time routine that works – and sweet dreams!

Littlest sleeping

Please note, this is a paid collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, as part of our role as Johnson’s Ambassadors. For more information, please see our Disclosure Policy.


¹Peláez-Nogueras, Martha, et al. Infants’ Preference for Touch Stimulation in Face-to-Face Interactions. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology1996;17:199-213

Hart, Sybil, et al. Preschoolers’ Cognitive Performance Improves Following Massage∗. Early Child Development and Care1998;143:59-64.

Field, Tiffany, and Maria Hernandez‐Reif. Sleep Problems in Infants Decrease Following Massage Therapy. Early Child Development and Care 2001;168:95-104.

Mindell J, et al. A nightly bedtime routine: Impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep 2009;32(5):599–606.

²Adapted from Field et al. 2008

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16 thoughts on “A Bed time Routine that Works for Us

  1. I’ve found it really interesting how the bed time routine changes as they get older – ours is much more complicated now that the children are slightly bigger! Bath time has always been an important factor of our bedtime routine; they seem to really need it in order to transition into ‘sleepy’ mode.

    1. Yes, ours got way more complicated when Littlest was bigger. I can only imagine the organisational feat with four (or five!) It definitely helps mine get into sleepy mode too 🙂

  2. We used to be so strict with the twins’ bedtime routines, but have definitely relaxed it as they’ve got a little older. Weirdly, bath time has never, ever been part of the bedtime routine for the boys. Just in case we never had access to a bath — especially times when we were camping — or on holiday etc. I didn’t want to risk their routine being turned on it’s head if they couldn’t have a bath — so that’s never been something they associate with bedtime. Lovely post Danielle 🙂 xx

  3. This is a fascinating article. We used to be really strict with bedtimes for our two and we were trying to follow the same routine for both of them but realised that it wasn’t’t working. My Oldest is a really bad sleeper and always has been since day 1. Like your biggest, she needs sound to help her get to sleep, and she has a special teddy that she has had since she was born. When she was a baby we would leave radio on low for her. Now she likes the door left open so that she can hear the gentle sound of the television from downstairs. My youngest on the other hand has to have complete silence and darkness and sleeps with the door shut! What we keep the same was a bath, and we would always use Johnson’s bedtime as it acted as cue for them that it was time to start getting ready for sleep. x

  4. Bedtime is so resisted in our house now, that bath, book, bed won’t work anymore. But – it used to work a treat and would be so relaxing for us. I really did notice a feeling of being more relaxed and definitely saw the benefits with the little one- at the time. X

  5. Oh what an interesting read, I didn’t know there were so many benefits to having a sensory bath. We love a good bath in our house but I could definitely do with making the a bit more exciting.

  6. My bedtime routine used to be so strict including a bath when my twins were younger. I needed that to get everyone including their eldest brother to bed! they loved their baths

  7. I don’t remember much about our bath time routine when i was younger bur remember bed time changed for me when I turned 11 and could stay up late.

  8. A really interesting piece. It always felt there was an irony in getting children into a routine only for them to need an entirely new one as they grew just a few months older.

  9. My daughter and son-in-law like to follow a nightly routine of bath, book, bed at a set time with our little granddaughter, and so when we babysit her we follow that same routine. Unfortunately the other set of grandparents do not do likewise, and let her stay up past her normal bedtime, often resulting in tears or grumpiness that evening or the following day due to overtiredness. I think it’s important that anyone entrusted with caring for a child should follow the wishes of the parents or primary carer, rather than assuming they know best and can do things differently.

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