We have all heard that saying ‘slept like a baby’…most of the time from somebody who doesn’t have one! All parents have been there desperately singing a lullaby whilst rocking back and forth, praying that their child will fall asleep. As well as being essential to your sanity, plenty of sleep for your child is vital for their development.
Here are a few hints and tips from our babysitters that can help your little ones on their journey to the land of nod.
A bedtime routine is key to getting your child into bed. Establishing a routine whilst they are still a baby helps when those ‘terrible twos’ kick in. With a routine, they know what is coming which can really help with the night time tantrums. Something as simple as ‘bath, pyjamas and a story’ before putting them into the bed can make all the difference.
After a busy (and possibly messy day) a great start to a routine is a bath. Everyone loves going to bed clean and that counts for your little ones too. As we get tired our body temperature naturally decreases. Giving your baby a warm bath slightly raises their body temperature, and creates a decrease once they are dry and squeaky clean which then initiates tiredness and brings on those little yawns. This one works with adults too, so for all you tired mummies and daddies, it isn’t a bad idea!
A baby massage using baby lotion helps your baby relax. Other than being enjoyable it also has many positive psychological effects. Touch is one of the first senses that babies experience, and infants who have routine touch show 50% more eye contact and are less likely to show negative expressions, which could mean less tears at bedtime as they grow. Massages help strengthen the bond between parents and babies, and form the foundations of their relationship making abilities for later on in life.
Once your child is dressed and ready for bed it’s time to wind down and relax. It’s important not to excite them with games (this time is a good excuse for cuddles). For new-born babies the motion of a gentle rock can really help relax them as they associate this motion with being inside mummy’s tummy. For toddlers it’s important to choose calmer activities the closer you are to bedtime. Story-telling lets them use their imagination to allow the story to come alive, and is a great way to let them settle and start their dreams. Just remember daddy, the aim of the game is to get them sleepy…so not too much animation on the character’s voices.
As much as we all know our tablets and smartphones can be our saviours in times of need, however the use of these before bedtime can really disrupt our child’s sleep. Artificial light affects all of our sleeping patterns, particularly the blue spectrum light which is present in high concentration from the LCD screens of our beloved digital devices. Research shows that this blue light decreases our natural melatonin levels by 22%, keeping us more alert and increasing the time it takes for us to go to sleep. So as tempting as it may be to let your little one watch an episode of Peppa Pig, it’s probably not wise.
Last piece of advice, remember all children are different. It can take time to realise what works for yours, and what helps them sleep. Stay patient and calm, and you will succeed!