No matter how old your child is, bedtime has always been a battle. The word itself strikes up a sense of nervousness and fear inside your body. Babies will wake up numerous times in the night to be fed and toddlers will often seek comfort from their parents when they move into their own room. The cycle is never ending when it comes to bedtime, so you’re hoping to make a positive change once and for all. The only way you are going to get a restful night’s sleep as a mom, is if your little one goes to bed on time and stays there! Now, this is much easier said than done, especially if your child requires additional support. A lot of little ones go through separation anxiety, which can cause them to wake up in the night and want to be close to their parents. The following techniques are to be used alongside the advice from your pediatrician; every single child is different so some of the ideas might not work for your little one. Take as many ideas on board and you can and you will soon feel confident with your child’s bedtime routine. Hopefully these pointers will lead to a soothing night of sleep for everybody in your household!
- Create an Age Appropriate Routine
Before you consider the following ideas, you need to find a routine that is age appropriate for your child. It is very difficult to establish a solid routine until your baby is around six months old. It is advised that you keep the routine as loose as possible until they reach this age. At six months they usually start eating solid foods and they are also able to sustain themselves through the night without needing to be fed. If you try and instill a bedtime routine when they are younger than this, it is likely that it won’t work out because their feeding patterns can be so irregular. If your child is a toddler or even school age, you can adapt their bedtime routine even more to suit their needs. Older children often need more time to wind down, especially if they have been active outside, doing homework or watching television before bed. You know your child better than anybody, so you will know the type of routine that will work for them as an individual.
- Invest in a Comfortable Bed
When you bought your child’s cot or bed, you probably just chose any old mattress that seemed like a good fit at the time. If you didn’t research your options there is a chance that your little one’s bed isn’t so comfortable. You might think that a soft and squishy mattress in a baby’s cot will be soothing for them, however they need a much firmer and supportive place to sleep. When your child is old enough to come out of a cot and have their own bed you will want to invest in a high quality twin mattress that will aid a peaceful night’s sleep. Before you jump into purchasing a new bed or mattress, make sure you do some research and find one that is supportive enough for them.
- Ensure They Are Eating Well
Before your child goes to bed you need to make sure that they have eaten enough dinner to see them through the whole night. Although you want their tummies to be full, you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or have bad wind if they are a baby. Your child should eat at least one hour before they go to bed so that they have time to digest their food before they lay down their head. Similarly, make sure the food you are offering them is healthy and nutritious. Avoid sugary snacks or fast food as this will give your child a sudden burst of energy that you just don’t need right before bedtime!
- Fresh Pajamas Every Night
Subconsciously your baby or child will absolutely love climbing into fresh pajamas every single evening. There is something so soothing about warm bedclothes, so try to put them on the radiator before they get dressed into them. Make sure they absolutely love their pajamas too; go out shopping for some new ones together if you have to!
- Daytime Naps Are Important
Your baby or child needs to have a solid day time nap schedule in order to have a good sleep cycle during the evening. If your baby misses a nap during the day this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to sleep well at night; unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way! Daytime naps are actually so important for maintaining a solid night’s sleep, so try to encourage a healthy routine as much as possible.
- Try a Night Light
If your child seems scared of the dark, then a night light is always a winner. Try to opt for an amber colored light rather than blue, as this may cause them to be overstimulated. Babies are not naturally scared of the dark, so you should only need to explore night light options as your child gets a little older.
- Create a Comforter
Your child may already have a comforter that helps them go to sleep. A teddy bear, a blanket or a pacifier can work wonders for their bedtime routine. Don’t be afraid for your child to get attached to something that comforts them, this is actually very healthy and won’t affect their development.
- Don’t Try to “Tire” Them Out
Tiring out your baby or child before bed is a myth. Running around the house, playing tickling games and generally being silly is absolutely fine at any time of the day, except before bedtime. You want to prevent them from become overstimulated just before they settle down to sleep. Your child might become overtired which is a recipe for disaster when it comes to getting them to bed. By all means go outside and have fun during the daytime, but don’t allow them to become so tired that they get grouchy!
- Bathtime Brilliance
There is something so soothing and calming about having a bath just before you go to bed. As an adult you know how relaxing it can be to soak in your favourite bubbles, slip into warm pyjamas and climb into bed! Although this type of routine is a rarity for you now, you remember the days when you used to love this winding down ritual. The same could be said for your child or baby. There is something about a bath that is very warming and soothing to them. Allowing them to snuggle up in a cozy towel with you and put on fresh pyjamas before they go to bed is a winning routine for everyone. If by chance your child doesn’t enjoy taking a bath, then it might be worth skipping this idea for their bedtime routine. You don’t want to distress them or make them cry just before they go to sleep as this will make the process long and unsettling for you all.
- Super Story Telling
No matter how old or young your child is, a story at bedtime is always a good idea. Choosing a good bedtime story can make going to sleep a super fun activity and it encourages to start reading themselves when they get older. If your child tends to choose the same story every single evening, encourage them to switch it up a little bit. Although the same story might seem like a comfort to them, they will soon start to memorize it and that will start to stimulate their brain a little too much before they go to sleep. Having a different bedtime story each evening is also more exciting for you too!
Try to stay as calm as possible as you implement this new bedtime routine. When there are a lot of changes going on around your baby they will be so aware of this. It may cause them to cry or become frustrated, so try and be patient with them. It normally takes a week or two for a bedtime routine to become well established, so don’t get annoyed if your child doesn’t settle right away. They are learning as much as you are, so it is important to guide them kindly through the process. As soon as you have hit the nail on the head with your bedtime routine you will feel a huge weight lifted from your shoulders. Every child needs this sort of structure in their life so that they can feel safe and content. Even when you go on vacation, try to keep their bedtime routine as similar as possible. Try to give them a warm bottle of milk, take their favourite comforter or give them a bath if you can. Taking a little one out of their usual environment can be overwhelming and stressful for them, so keep this routine constant will put them at ease. Start implementing these bedtime routine ideas now and your little one will soon be settled and well rested every single evening.
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