The realities of children’s bedtime routines revealed


For 40% of UK parents: stressful bedtime routines result in moods, tantrums and tears

Light evenings and school holidays can make bedtime a challenge, but for 40% of parents, the mere mention of the words ‘time for bed’ results in mood swings, tantrums and tears according to a new survey from online parenting resource Families Online (  Some parents said their children also get angry at bedtime and some admitted their child gets scared at the prospect of going to bed which can present further challenges in getting children to sleep.

Hours spent getting children to sleep…

Almost 1,800 parents across the UK (with children up to the age of eight years) were polled on their child’s bedtime routine. The results also showed that parents are spending a considerable amount of time each night on bedtime routines with a quarter of parents admitting that they spend over an hour every evening getting their child into bed and a further 52% (more than half) spend 30 to 45 minutes.

What time is bedtime?

When it comes to deciding what time is ‘bedtime’ most parents (57%) will aim to have their children in bed between 7pm-7.30pm each evening (meaning for many, that the bedtime process has to start around an hour earlier than this).  For 25% of parents, 8-8.30pm is deemed to be bedtime and is more likely to be reflective of parents with older children in the category.  Only 1% of parents said their child has no set bedtime suggesting that UK parents are sticklers for a regular bedtime routine.

Parents admit to giving sweets and biscuits at bedtime…

Parents were also quizzed on their rules around eating at bedtime with a firm 60% saying they do not allow their child to have any kind of snack at bedtime. Almost a quarter of parents (24%) say they will allow a healthy snack at bedtime (such as a piece of fruit). Interestingly, even though most parents are aware that too much sugar can have an impact on a child’s ability to sleep, 16% of parents still say they will offer their child biscuits and sweet treats at bedtime too, in a bid to get them to settle.

Staying up on a school night?

On the topic of staying up later than 10pm on a school night, a resounding 74% of parents say they would not allow this.  Just under a quarter of parents (23%) said they would allow it but only on a special occasion.  A final 3% said they regularly allow their child to stay up beyond 10pm on a school night.

Bedtime routines were also found to involve a whole host of elements from singing songs to brushing teeth and leaving lights on.  According to parents, bedtime routines were reported to involve:

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