6 Mistakes you may be making
Achieving a fuss-free bedtime for your baby or toddler can challenge the best of parents. Without realising it you may be guilty of some of the following activities which may well contribute to the damaging of your baby’s sleep!
1: Staying up late
All of us feel somewhat guilty when we are at work all day long only to come home to feed and bath our child and then put him into bed. We feel we are not spending enough time with our child and so we may keep our baby or infant up later than is good for them so that we can play with them in order to make up having “quality” time with our child. This can be a real sleep problem as late bedtimes can leave the child overtired and then they become irritable and refuse to go to sleep at all! Avoid this possible problem by setting and sticking to an appropriate bedtime. It’s also important to watch for signs that indicate your baby or toddler is getting tired, such as eye-rubbing or his eyes keep on closing involuntarily as he plays. If you see the signs, tuck him into bed before he gets overtired, read to him and then let him fall asleep in his bed. As he gets older, plan his activities around regular bedtimes and nap times. So although we all like to think that routine is so boring, for a small child, it is extremely comforting to know what comes next, especially as his bedtime draws near and the routine will help give a fuss-free bedtime.
Most of us will rock our babies for a while to soothe and relax him before putting him to bed. The key here is to avoid rocking your child to sleep – as soon as drowsiness sets in put him in his cot or bed as if you rock until he is fast asleep he may come to rely on the rocking motion in order to fall asleep. This means that should he wake up in the middle of the night he will then want to be rocked back to sleep!! So here the secret is not to rely on car rides, infant swings or walks in the pushchair to put your child to sleep. Rather rock to soothe and relax and as soon as those little eyes begin to close, place your baby in his crib so that he falls asleep in the cot.
3: Picking him up immediately he cries
When your baby cries in the middle of the night, it is instinctive for you to want to go to him immediately and pick him up to either feed him, check his nappy or just cuddle him. Hard as it is, you should try to wait a few minutes before you rush to your baby. Babies also wake up naturally several times a night, just like us adults and as they don’t yet know how to settle themselves back to sleep, they need the opportunity to learn. So give your baby time to self-soothe, either by finding a thumb to suck or finding his dummy and sucking on that, for example. If he is still crying after 2-3 minutes, then by all means go in and check on him and his needs.
4: Bedtime Bottle
Giving your baby a bottle at bedtime can definitely lead to him falling asleep more readily, but this is a bit risky for the following reasons:
- He may not go to sleep without a bottle, ever
- Choking on the liquid is possible
- Ear infections are more likely
- There is a greater chance of tooth decay
- Weaning him from bottle to cup may be more difficult later on
5: Sharing your bed
Many parents opt to sleep-share and are quite happy to have a little one thrashing around during the night. If you decide that this is not for you then set firm guidelines about where everyone in the family sleeps. Should your child come to your room in the night, don’t scold him or talk to him…just take him back to his room, tuck him in with a hug and a kiss and go back to your bed! If you do this consistently, after a week or two your child will have learnt to sleep through the night in his own room.
6: Negotiating bedtime
Don’t allow yourself to be talked into another story, another song, another kiss etc. As your child grows older they want to test limits and often choose to resist bedtime. Just establish a “not negotiable” routine with your child, which he should also have some say in (for instance, tell your child you will read two stories, but he can choose which ones, and stick to it! Stay calm; anticipate their needs before bedtime (that last sip of water, the special soft toy to go to bed with) and soon bedtime will not be a battleground.
Having a bedtime routine for your child can save a lot of battles with your little one. Sometimes, though, the routine is broken for whatever reason and that’s okay, too, as long as you return to the routine once the occasion has passed. It will be a couple of days before your little guy settles back into the routine though, so patience and consistency is once again the key to success!
I’d love to know your little one’s bedtime routine! Comment in box below or, if you prefer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in lifestyle newborn photography
photo credits GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography