Oh baby, it's time to sleep
BABY mummas, we know the struggle of getting your little one down to sleep. We have been there. But, there are solutions. The one we love most is something that we call The Wind Down.
Essentially, it's a routine that you follow pretty consistently on a nightly basis to cue your child into the fact that bedtime is coming. Believe us, this will change the balance of control at bedtime, particularly if your child is at the top of the dog pile.
The Wind Down works well for babies, but we've found similar routines with adapted wind-down activities can work just as well for toddlers and slightly older kids.
Why use a wind-down routine?
A wind-down routine is there to signal to your child that bedtime is on the way. It should be consistent, and that consistency is comforting for your child. It's also a good way to calm your child, and it's great if it contains activities that provide an opportunity for physical touch, cuddling and being together.
Good wind-down activities
1. Warm bath/shower: Having a warm bath or shower is a wonderful way to start a wind down routine. Of course, for young babies, regular washing is not necessary and can agitate them more. The key with relaxing your baby in a bath is to really ease them in, put some calming music on or some white noise, or just talk and sing to them. Make lots of slow movements.
2. Baby massage: We aren't talking about a shiatsu or anything intense, but a very gentle massage can be super calming for babies, and it also gives you a chance to have some nice time together. Remember, babies are calmed and feel more connected through physical touch. Just get a sensitive lotion and put some on your hands before rubbing it in during your massage. Now, while we definitely think the first two parts of the wind down routine, i.e. the warm bath and the baby massage, are must-dos, the next few are optional.
3. Gentle music: Playing calming music can have such a relaxing effect on a child, particularly a baby. The issues that babies have struggling with sleep are often explained by being overstimulated, so a bit of soft music, or even a calming lullaby, can make all the difference.
4. Read: Even if your child can't read or speak, there are benefits to getting them into a routine of pre-bedtime reading. Literacy really does start early, and it is promoted by any reading or word-based activities. Plus, the sound of a parental voice can really make a child drowsy.
5. White noise: If your baby has older siblings that go to bed later than them, invest in something that produces white noise. White noise is noise that fills up the background, like rain falling or even just the noise of static. It can be relaxing.
Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum: stayathomemum.com.au