Bedtime can be a great time for dads to bond with their kids. For many dads, bedtime is the only time when they can really get the cuddles and bonding that they need to have with their children.
Of course, every family dynamic is different. Some are divorced; some have wives who work and also want to bond with the kids in the evenings; others are married to stay-at-home moms who breastfeed.
As you look at the following ideas, tips, and suggestions, you can probably find some things that work for your family, or that you can adapt to your unique family dynamic.
Benefits of Routine
Children and dads tend to like routines. Routines make kids feel secure, but they may also make dads feel secure, too. After all, the routine provides an outline and a “to do” list for dads who may feel unsure about what to do.
Other benefits of dads doing bedtime include:
- Mom gets a chance to rest and have some time to herself in the evening (or even time to clean up the kitchen so she isn’t doing it late at night). For work-at-home moms, this can be a chance to catch up on some work.
- Bonding is a wonderful benefit of bedtime routine, but it may go beyond the bond you’ll form with your kids. You’d be surprised how helping with the kids may endear you to your wife, bringing you closer.
- Better sleep for everyone may well be a consequence of a regular bedtime routine with dad. Kids tend to sleep better when there is a routine in place, and when kids sleep well, parents do, too.
Now we’ll look at routines for different ages. The following routines are just suggestions, of course. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and your kids will appreciate your customized bedtime routine.
Here are some ideas:
For infants, the routine Dad can get involved with includes:
- A bath
- Diaper change
- Bottle-feeding (or standing by to take the baby after Mom finishes nursing)
- Cuddling and rocking baby to sleep
- Laying baby in bassinet or crib
Toddlers and Preschoolers
For this age, a routine might look like this:
- Get pajamas on
- Bedtime snack (this has been shown to really help toddlers and preschoolers sleep better)
- Brush teeth
- Use the toilet
- Get in bed (you can always make it fun – dive under the covers, for instance)
- Stories (Dad’s usually love reading stories!)
- Back scratch/rub
School-age kids can have age-appropriate versions of the toddler/preschooler routine.
For all routines, experts point out the importance of dim lighting, low voices, and a generally relaxing atmosphere. Some kids really like having the routine written out and/or illustrated and posted where they can see it.
Here are some ideas for other things you might change or add to any of the routines above.
- Let the child read a book in bed
- Play a CD of a bedtime story or relaxing music
- Do shadow puppets together with a flashlight