Ease Sleepytime Struggles With a Bedtime Routine Chart
Bedtime with toddlers and young children can be the most daunting time of day. You want to enjoy the cuddles and stories, but when there’s dawdling, resistance, or tears, it can just feel punishing. But there is hope, we promise!
Experts agree that the secret to a successful sleepytime is a routine. Children crave order, and once it’s established, they will thrive on a set nighttime schedule. While some kids adhere more naturally than others, once they learn there’s no wiggle room in the order of events, bedtime becomes easier for all involved.
Whether you’re starting a new routine altogether or just want a fresh way to enforce and add some ownership to the current one, bedtime routine charts are a game-changer. Even pre-readers can take pride in their own bedtime tasks with visual markers. In words or pictures, a bedtime routine chart is a simplified visual list of the evening’s activities that need to be accomplished before bed. You customize it to include what’s important for your child from tooth-brushing to storytime and, eventually, lights out.
There are lots of pre-assembled or digital download charts that you can purchase online. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, start out with our DIY ideas. Read on to find our favorites in this very welcome bedtime trend for parents—and kids from toddlers to tweens.
How to Make a Bedtime Routine Chart
Making a routine chart at home for bedtime can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Go all out with cool materials like wood or resin, and use some of the Etsy finds on our list as inspiration if you’re super crafty. If you’d rather make something a bit more “beginner” level, these cute ideas are easy to implement and work just as well!
DIY Fold-Up Paper Bedtime Routine Chart
The only supplies needed for this simple DIY routine chart are paper, markers and/or a pencil, small round magnets or Velcro, and a pair of scissors for cutting tabs. (Do not use magnets with children who are young enough to still put small objects in their mouth, though. If implementing this chart at home with a toddler, try Velcro instead!) In a fold-up paper chart, each word or image correlates with each step of your bedtime routine (a toothbrush, clothes going into a hamper, a pair of pajamas). Your child will fold up the tab to reveal a checkmark or the word “DONE” once each task is accomplished.
Cookie Sheet Bedtime Routine Chart
Photo: Craftaholics Anonymous
Turn a cookie sheet into your kiddo’s bedtime bestie with this simple and fun DIY project. The cookie sheet (or any magnetic board of your choice) serves as the base of the bedtime chart, to be accessorized with magnet indicators. In the example here, children are checking off their daily chores, but you can use the same idea for bedtime. Once each step of their routine is complete, they’ll simply move the corresponding magnet from the “TO DO” section to the other side of the cookie sheet.
White Board Bedtime Routine Chart
It doesn’t get any simpler than this white board checklist! The steps of the bedtime routine are listed in a row, and your little one ticks them off with a marker as they’re completed. Customize it for your kiddo with pictures if they can’t yet read, or respond better to visuals, and buy a stash of dry erase markers in their favorite colors to make the chart more fun.
Free Printable Bedtime Routine Charts
Photo: What Moms Love
Another no-muss way to achieve a DIY bedtime chart that’s cute and functional is with one of the awesome resources online for free printables. Before you overinvest in the routine chart, download a couple different styles and see which one elicits the best response from your child(ren). We really like the above chart from What Moms Love and the below from Taking Cara Babies.
Where to Buy a Bedtime Routine Chart
Etsy is one of our favorite resources for handmade, family-centric products and files. There are plenty of downloadable options there with easy instructions for printing and use. If you and your child would prefer a physical chart, we’ve also included some beautiful options in wood and other materials that make the bedtime routine feel special and give it a prominent spot in their room. Here are our favorite bedtime routine charts you can buy online.
Fold-Up Paper Bedtime Routine Chart
If you liked the fold-up idea in our DIY section but want something that looks a little more professional, consider this cheap and instant download off Etsy.
Bedtime Routine Calendar & Book
For the detailed little learner, this adorable suite of bedtime preparedness products will have your family slaying the end of the day together. An encouraging calendar allows for variance from night-to-night as well as tracking toward rewards for a followed routine. The book works effortlessly into your nighttime story routine, and reward stickers will help your child(ren) see their success tracked over time.
Wood & Dry Erase Bedtime Routine Chart
This beautiful bedtime routine chart is a perfect addition to your little one’s room, blending well with all different types of decor from boho or vintage to mod and trendy. The elegant font and design make it something your kids will want to use, and one of those special pieces of their childhood you’ll want to hold onto for posterity.
Simple Check-Off Bedtime Routine Chart
Download this easy-to-follow bedtime chart and make the nighttime routine a cinch. You can have it printed onto dry-erase sheeting and adhere it to the wall or a board to make your own dry erase routine chart. Or, print it onto paper and stick it up on the fridge or another magnetic surface to be marked off with little magnets as each step of their routine is completed.
Illustrated Check-Off Bedtime Chart
A cozy nighttime chart with sweet illustrations that can be used by readers and non-readers alike, this one can be displayed as the previous or laminated and turned into a Velcro chart.
Moving Pieces Bedtime Chart
A step further than a check or marker, moving tasks from the to-do list to the completed section feels great. This style is especially helpful for tiny hands as the large squares are easy to grasp and manipulate, allowing even a younger toddler the satisfaction of participating in their own routine and tracking his accomplishments.
Customized Star Bedtime Chart
Add their name and pick a favorite theme for this beautiful and affordable nighttime routine chart. Tasks completed are indicated with a star for ease of use and visual appeal.
Movable Felt Bedtime Routine Chart
This sweet felt set is as fun to use as it is adorable to look at. The bottom of the chart features a pocket to house the steps of your routine (little felt squares with Velcro backs that feature both words and an image). You can put up your bedtime to-dos on the left, and as your kiddo completes each one, they can move them to the right side of the chart. What’s extra-special here is that during the day you can use this same chart for their morning routine and/or chores…then set it up with bed-time to-dos come evening!
Sliding Bedtime Chart
Even older children will enjoy the satisfaction of sliding over the indicators on this routine chart once a nighttime task has been accomplished. We love these because they include tons of stickers to enhance the written words, and the dry-erase format allows the routine to grow and change with your child, or to be used for chores as well as bedtime, when needed.
More Ways to Make Bedtime Go Smoothly:
- Bedtime Books to Lull Your Little One to Sleep
- The Bedtime Story That’ll Stop Stalling
- A Great Toddler Bedtime Routine
- Why You Should Add Sweet Talk to Your Tot’s Routine
- How to Find the Right Bedtime for Your Toddler
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.