Tips and tricks for bedtime

At some point along the way, our little ones are no longer newborns and we need to teach them how to sleep and how to go to sleep on their own.

When we’ve kicked that goal, we settle into a state of bliss having nailed the sleep thing.

Then they grow up a little bit more and the little one we grew and fed starts to have a personality of its own.

We put our child down for sleep. They sit up.

We progress from a cot to a bed, and they get right out.

We scratch our heads.

Have no fear – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We just need to shake it up a bit and acknowledge that our child has grown up a little and needs other things for sleep time.

Start with the white noise.

Children are so used to white noise that they don’t even register it is on.

Give them something that will grab their attention; classical music and nursery rhythms and lullabies are a start.

But if you really want to get creative, try some of your partner’s down-time favourites that your baby is used to hearing and associating with a different sort or relaxation.

Take the cricket for example. If your child associates cricket with dad and weekend relaxation time, try the ABC radio and pop it on the cricket.

If you put the radio under the cot, a baby that sits up, may try to lie down to better hear the noise.

Audio books are also great but listen out for accents, tone and gender. Some babies prefer male voices, others prefer female.

Introducing audio books in the car is a great way to get your child used to it and if they can learn to concentrate and listen to an audio book it is a great way to get a toddler or child to relax on the couch when they grow out of their day sleeps instead of reaching for the television remote control.

 If your little one is now in a cot or a bed, get used to the idea that their bedroom is no longer just for sleep.

You can finally move some of the toys out of the lounge and into their bedroom where they can play and be on their own.

It is great for self-regulation, imagination and independence.

To try and get a toddler to stay in their bed,  you can change the rules up a little bit and aim to just get them to stay in their room.

Looking at books on their own in bed or playing quietly on their floor is a fantastic way to set them up nicely for learning how to have quiet time.

Give them a stack of books on their bed, have a train track on the floor, eventually they will tire and either fall asleep on the floor or put themselves back to bed.

You can also introduce a night light for when your child opens their eyes and can’t see anything familiar or anything at all.

A little night light will give them some security that all is well in their world, particularly as the dreams and night terrors get a little out of hand.

As a parent, it is also handy for when your child is sick or if you want to avoid stepping on painful pieces of lego.

Speaking of security, as your baby is rolling around in bed and learning to feel comfortable in their own little space, blankets and teddies can be great comforters and are not the high-risk items they were when they were little.

These same items can go with them in the car, to child care or to sleepovers.

A breastfed baby will sometimes like the same material their mother would wear.

For example, if a mother wore satin nighties while feeding, a baby might like the satin edging on a blanket.

Have fun and be creative with your baby’s bedroom.

It is not just a sleeping space anymore. It is their space for relaxation and play.

In the meantime, be kind and gentle with yourself and your baby, shake up the rules, allow yourself some breathing space from the rigidity of bed time.

Consistency and routine is still important, like putting them to bed at the same time every night, but factor in winding down time for them such as their book, play or audio book time and make their bed time a little earlier.

Not having to growl about going back to bed or trying to get them to lie down, means you feel like a more peaceful parent and have some of your evening time back. Everyone wins!

Contributed: Summer Gwynne, of Summer Breeze Consultancy
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