Thanks to Aimi Palmer of My Little Sleeper for being our guest blogger this week. Aimi is a child sleep consultant and works with families in Chicago to bring a better nights sleep to the whole family. We are excited to announce our new partnership and the creation of our "A Calmer Baby" workshops and classes. Stay turned for more information and upcoming class dates!
Sleep is very important to me. This mama will not be pleasant to be around if I haven't had a good night's sleep, so from the time my kiddos were babies, they always had a very consistent bedtime routine. We have continued that routine (changing a bit as they grew) and we have all definitely felt the benefits. Even my youngest, who I'm fairly certain didn't sleep for the first six months of his life, has become a great sleeper due to consistency and routine.
Here's what the professional has to say...
A consistent bed time routine is as much for you as it is for your baby. If they know what's coming they will be more accepting of sleep. A routine can also help establish good sleep habits which encourages better sleep. For you, having a routine means less thinking - especially important if you have had a long day. Everyone's a winner! Now what should your routine look like? Here are some tips to create a serene bedtime routine.
- What should be included in the routine?
Bath: You don't need to bath your baby daily, but some children love water so it's a great way for them to unwind at the end of the day. For older toddlers it's also a great way to get some learning in with foam letters, colored balls or a science experience with water jugs.
Massage: Bonding with your child, whether they're an infant or a toddler, is a perfect way to end the day. Massage is a calming time that allows your baby to relax and prepare for sleep.
Brushing teeth: Dentists will agree that oral hygiene can start before your baby has teeth. Use age appropriate brushes and do this before bath time if you think you may get excess drool from the process.
Reward chart: If you have a toddler that has a reward chart, do stickers for the day in one go. Extremely satisfying for them if they get multiple stickers at the same time.
Story time: Chose stories that are not too long and are age appropriate. Avoid noise books and pop ups books as this can be too stimulating. See my bed book recommendations for some good book ideas.
Night night sleep tight: Make sure you say good night to everyone - whether this is their sibling or their teddy. Saying good night is important at the end the day so they know that the next step is bed.
- A routine that works for everyone:
Each family has different circumstances when it comes to bed time. One parent may work late so it's a solo event; or the caregiver may start the routine with the parents finishing off. You may have multiple children going down at the same time. Find a routine that works for the whole family. In our house if both my husband and I are home the children bath together, then they get into their pajamas, brush teeth and have stories in their own rooms. They get to say good night to each other then into their beds.
- What happens if you are out late one night?
Stick to your order of events but be flexible. They may get a wash rather than a full bath time routine but don't prevent them from winding down. You want them to be calm going to bed so don't stress on the way home which may cause anxiety. Stick to the same order of events, just a shorter version.
- Why wait - start from day one
There's never any harm in having a bed time routine from the baby's first week. Newborns are so unpredictable that a bedtime routine will provide you with some consistency to your hectic change in life. It will also help if your baby has their days and nights mixed up.
Preparing for bed should be fun and calming for your child. It's the end of the day and time to say good night. Healthy sleep habits will result in better quality of sleep and more rest for everyone.