Has the bedtime routine that once you thought you had mastered turned out to be not so much of a routine at all? Has it left you realising that your child is now the one pulling the strings and calling the shots during bedtime? Has she/he/they left you feeling a pang of guilt (that you are actually choosing to ignore), because you just don’t have the energy to keep things tightly following that schedule. The same one that use to work so well? I thought so. Read on if you really DO want to put a stop to this and want the ball back in your court, where it belongs.
I will start off by telling you all that everyone who is a parent that has the duty to put their child to sleep -and even get them to co operate- during bedtime has a different routine. It really all boils down to how your baby understands. Not all are able to grasp why and what is asked of them.
My experience with putting my daughter to sleep has been something I have had to learn best on my own. If I must be honest I feel that mothers are better at putting their baby to sleep as they naturally are more in tune with reading and communicating with their baby, be it through body language, our voices or something entirely different, we tend to have a knack to let our babies know things and vice versa. It must be to do with the early stages of them being new-born. And those first moments of bonding in the hospital really do push the bonding through, which in turn aid the communications between mother and child through. I feel that with my own daughter the first three days of her and me sharing our time in the hospital made this unbreakable bond, made of invisible iron, fuse between us. I wouldn’t be able to describe it but the after effects of this then left me to be reading her needs and wants involuntarily. That being said I put this to use during her bedtime which is undeniably best to put to practice as soon as they are able to roll over. That really is my top tip. In other words, as soon as they are able to interact with us. I believe it is best when they are able to understand more, due to them being able to interact more. They would notice signs of a routine taking place, whether they can speak or not. It relies on us to stick to it so they are able to pick up the signals which is key to a good bedtime routine.
I started her bedtime routine in a vague way. No particular time as being a home maker and daughter in law requires certain duties that are soley yours to be completed before going off to bed. It may seem odd or harsh for anyone who is’nt Bengali but there it is. It’s the norm for traditional inlaw folks.
So, to start off, her bedtime was rather shamefully late which I then adjusted to 8pm. Some may find that it still seems late for a child but as I had mentioned before, every bedtime routine is different and I found 8-8.30pm was best. Anyhow, the key was pattern. It all comes down to the pattern they see. Her dinner is actually the initial stage of the routine. She knows not too long after eating a hearty meal will be her bedtime. I’ve always used the same night light for bedtime. As soon as I bring her into the bedroom the night light is switched on. This makes a blue hue light up the entire bedroom. It’s dim enough and we are able to see our surroundings. As a parent you should ideally have a night light not only to keep as a signal for your baby but babies often wake up during the night for feeds etc, so we must provide without so much rummaging and bumping into furniture in the dark for things. She often has her bottle of milk and then breast milk to soothe her to sleep or relax her till she is sleepy. I always sing her a set of lullabies as slowly as possible and in the best voice as I can.lol. It has worked nearly all the time. Now, lullabies I believe really do help, it is another key signal of a bedtime routine and what is being anticipated/required of them. Some add a story book too. But I have chosen to avoid this for when she is older. As this can give her mixed signals that it is playtime. What I want her to do is ease her off from interacting (as it means play time) and have her do nothing at all, quite simply. This will allow her body to be relaxed enough in order to nod off. I also want to give a second important tip which is to keep the task at hand of putting babies to sleep as simple as possible without additiono effort. The more ‘tasks’ you add to the bedtime ‘list’ , the more energy you are unnecessarily burning. And probably stressing over. All you need is a short, comforting pattern that works in a slow, gradual process.
The above routine had worked for so long, however, she has turned 15 months old now. And things have drastically changed. She has her same environment ready so she knows it is bedtime, her bedtime is even earlier in fact. But she has grown a personality which is quiet adorably mischievous, although her father doesn’t seem to think so. To him there is nothing so cute about her demanding behaviour and signs of flimsy violence at us occasionally. Hand in hand with her mischievous cutesy behaviour is a firm, stubbornness that is a clear characteristic. Practically engraved. After her usual feeding routine she has the need to burn off the energy or play rather. It could also be that she is fighting off her sleep, which is natural for toddlers to do. Why ever not? When playing is so much more exciting than boring, old sleep? And this is when the magic happens.
All it requires is for you to lay still or even sit still in bed, where you usually put her to sleep. If your child sleeps in a junior cot or bed you may decide to sit. What you want to do is remain in the usual state of position of when she has fallen asleep or is ever so close to dozing off. You can relax as she continues her play but do make sure you stay awake and highly avoid using your phone or even fidgeting. Soon after your toddler would return, this is your que to put her to sleep. You may notice even that your toddler has started to cooperate. It may take a few times but it has been tried and tested, take my word for it. You really will retain that energy and it will also teach your child to cooperate.
Since I have added this to my daughter’s usual bedtime routine she now is able to understand her own que of feeling sleepy, and that she needs her sleep and it has also saved me mega amounts of energy and stressing over why and when she will sleep!
To think all those stressful nights could have simply been solved with me lying in bed pretending to sleep! This whole trick at getting the Little One to sleep was all thanks to her Father in fact that I thought I would share with those who can relate and need advice. It just goes to show that even though Fathers may not be putting the baby to sleep they certainly can have great ideas!
What’s your bedtime routine for putting your child to sleep? Are there any fool proof methods you use?? Comment and share below your successes so everyone can take notes!
Till next time, stay tuned for more parenting know hows and mummy topics!xx