Do you dread putting your child to bed at night? If this is you, check out this blog post containing our 6 B’s for bedtime routine and information on how to make going bed work for you!
Babies and children are constantly learning, growing and adapting to the world around them. That old saying children are like little sponges is extremely accurate! They do not miss a thing, do they?! Sometimes to our detriment this can include the good, the bad and the ugly! When we become a parent, we become a role model to our child. How we respond and act in different situations and at certain times during the day allows our children to learn what is normal and how to behave. They look at us for guidance and to show them the way of the world. With this in mind, now think about what happens in your household at the end of the day. Does is reflect a level of calm signalling to your child a difference from first thing in the morning or the middle or the day? Or is it just as busy?
Switching off and winding down
We need to remember our children are not mini adults. This means if we find it easy to go to sleep after having some friends visit, or watching 2 hours of T.V, it doesn’t mean that our children are capable of this. Even until they are much older, they may still continue to struggle and keep some help in order to switch off! If we are able to dull down the stimulation before bedtime and provide a simple pattern towards the end of the day, your child will find it a lot easier to relax, wind down and be ready for sleep. Young babies need a lot of assistance in order to help them to “get in the zone” for sleep. This is because they can become overstimulated very easily. From a young age, babies can begin to recognise sleep cues from us and their environment, learning ways of how they can wind down effectively.
It is not uncommon knowledge that babies, and children thrive off routine even if we consider our parenting style as more go with the flow. This is because it has the power of allowing your child even from early infancy to feel safe and secure. A similar routine can result in less sleep resistance and boundary pushing because children begin to accept this as a predictive part of their day. It is important to try and not to see bedtime as hard work! (even if we know it is sometimes) Your child will pick up on your feelings and often create some resistance related to your actions. Instead, if we view it as a nice way to connect and spend quality time with our child after a busy day, that positive mentality can make all the difference!⠀
The best routines are usually the most monotonous for us as parents because they consist of similar activities at similar times. I bet some of you out there can recall your child requesting to read the SAME book over and over! I know a routine can feel restrictive, but this consistency is actually your key to bedtime freedom! Trust me when I say this, if you put in the hard work developing a good routine while they are young, the benefits will continue for many years to come! For one thing, babysitting becomes easier! A child is more likely still feel safe and secure with someone new, if the bedtime routine stays the same. This has the same results if you go on holiday or stay somewhere other than your own home. Your child is more likely to feel secure in a new environment if the routine flows in a similar way. There of course will be days where timing issues or events make it impossible to complete all the steps to your routine each and every night, this is normal! Having a great routine most of the time allows for those days, without jeopardising future bedtimes.
A predictable routine becomes such a strong cue for sleep that even your child’s body can start to respond by releasing sleep inducing hormones!! ⠀⠀
So how long do you need for a good bedtime routine?
Here at S.T.G we recommend setting the stage for bed at least 20 mins before, in order to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation. If you are including a bath in your routine (which we recommend) you will likely need more time to achieve this. ⠀
S.T.G’s 6 B’s for bedtime⠀
At S.T.G we recommend our 6 B’s bedtime routine, which can be implemented and adapted to any age.⠀⠀
Baths are a soothing way to wind down at the end of the day and help define that bedtime is approaching. If your child seems exceptionally restless at night, try adding some Epsom salts to their bath. Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin in small amounts. It is an essential mineral that a child needs in order for their body to relax, and it can be obtained from eating a healthy balanced diet with foods such as avocado and wholegrains.
Bed clothes- including swaddle/sleeping bag depending on your child’s age.
After a bath, surprise surprise bed clothes are next! If you have a child under 6 months, this may include a swaddle. Swaddling can be done before or after the last feed of the day to encourage your child to relax and prepare for sleep. For an older child in a sleeping bag, this may not go on until just before they head into their cot or bed. ⠀
Consider your child’s age and temperament as to where you provide the last feed. Ideally, feeding in the room they will be sleeping in is best suited for younger babies or babies that are easily distracted. This is because it can help reduce the stimulation, allowing them to focus on taking in a good feed. As your child gets older, they may enjoy sitting in another room with the rest of the family before moving into the bedroom for sleeping. We recommend this is only if they are able to wind down and relax easily in the company of others.
Brush teeth/gums- usually from appearance of first tooth ⠀
We recommend this step after the last feed in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. A good habit to get into is using a wash cloth or some gauze, or a toothbrush if your baby has teeth, and that to be the last thing in your baby’s mouth before bed (except if they are using a pacifier). At S.T.G we do understand that sometimes babies have developed an association with a milk feed just before bed. If this is the case, you may decide to continue to do this especially if they are very young. If being fed to sleep is something that is causing a problem at bedtime, or it is something you would like to change if your child is older, please contact us for a free 15 minute consultation so we can explain to you all the ways we can help.
Book or Bottom pat in your arms for a younger child ⠀
Up until around 6 months old, we recommend a cuddle and a bottom pat with some white noise instead of a book, as younger babies can get easily overstimulated at the end of the day. After that, a calm story or activity is a perfect way to help your child wind down before bed.
We cannot force our children to sleep, so we suggest that you do not get consumed in trying to. Of course, challenges may arise but try not to get caught up in bedtime battles. We want to promote bedtime as a nice time of the day. With older children, we can start them to ask them to close their eyes rather than go to sleep. Prior to bed, be confident that you have set the stage for sleep by following a bedtime routine. This encourages your baby to begin learning the necessary skills in order to fall asleep independently.
As with all ages, a bedtime routine works best if your child is not already overtired to begin with! You can check out S.T.G’s age appropriate awake times on your Instagram page or Facebook page. If you would like more help in regard to your child’s bedtime, please get in touch. We would love to support you further.