(This post contains affiliate links. See disclaimer.)
The bedtime routine is important for getting your little one to sleep. You do the typical bath, brush teeth, pj’s and story. Then it’s lights out as you tiptoe down the hall hoping to catch an hour or so to yourself.
Bedtime can also be a great time to work on speech with your child. I talked about strategies for Bath Time here. Now I’m going to address strategies that work well with the bedtime routine. Adding strategies into your everyday life are a great way to help a child with their speech/language development.
This is can be struggle for some families. Often kids resist having things stuck in their mouth. Giving choices can make this part of the routine a little easier.
- Have two different toothbrushes or toothpastes to work on requesting.
- If possible, allow the child to provide directions. “Brush the top/bottom. Brush this side first.” This works on expressive language. If the child doesn’t have words, then have the child point.
- Take turns brushing. “I do it, then you do it.”
- You can work on sequencing by asking “what comes next” (i.e., “First we brush, then we spit in the sink.”).
- Look in the mirror when done to work on imitating funny faces and lip movements (i.e., stick out tongue, kiss, smile, frown). This works on imitating oral motor movements and emotions.
This part of the routine can be an opportunity for requesting, following directions, and taking turns.
- Have two different pj’s your child can pick from. Have the child use words or gestures to request.
- Talk about what you are doing (i.e., this goes over the head, now out comes your arm.) to talk about spacial concepts.
- Take turns. “I put on the shirt. You put on the pants.”
- Use this as a time to work on following directions (i.e., get your shirt, put clothes in laundry basket, put on pj’s, etc.”).
Books at Bedtime
Each family has their own unique bedtime routine. Reading to your little one at bedtime is a wonderful experience for both of you. It’s nice to end the day cuddled up in bed with a good book and someone you love. I talk about books in different posts. You can check them out here and here. You can learn about how to pick a good book for your child and then how to use it to encourage language development.
At bedtime, you are wanting to encourage sleep, so I would focus on books that are repetitive, rhyme or have a soothing rhythm when you read it. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” is an excellent example of repetition and soothing rhythm. You can check it out here.
- Give two choices in books to work on requesting.
- Take time to talk about the pictures and comment about what you see to work on labeling and vocabulary development.
- Make predictions of what will happen next. This works on sequencing.
- After reading, talk about the story to work on “wh” questions like “what, where, who, when, and why.”
- Take turns reading or “pretending to read” the book if it’s a well-loved story. This will word on turn-taking and forming sentences.
Then it’s lights out! Hopefully you will have a sleepy little one and some quiet time for yourself. Good luck!