5 Tried and Tested tips to encourage babies & toddlers to nod off
All babies and toddlers (especially toddlers!), try to fight sleep sooner or later in their little lives – this is a known fact amongst all those droopy eyed parents wandering around their workplaces! I’d like to share my 5 tips which seemed to help promote sleep when my boys were babies and into their toddlerhood. They can be implemented right from birth if that is what you wish to do.
We all know that if our children become overtired or over stimulated, it is difficult to wind down and go to sleep. This is also true for the newborn who can get overwhelmed by all the new things which are suddenly in his life. In the case of a baby or one-year-old to suddenly stop an active play game and be put into bed just because it’s “bedtime” doesn’t bode well for the “Sandman” to come knocking! So here’s the first tip – spend some time winding down in the early part of the evening. This can mean supper (be it breast, bottle, solids (or a combination, depending on your child’s age), followed by bath time and all the splashing and playing that makes bath time fun! Then it should be into bed with a bedtime story (not dinosaurs fighting please! Rather choose something calm and happy!). Hopefully, you will notice your child becoming increasingly sleepy as the story goes on! Once the story is finished it is time to give kisses and with a cheerful nighty-night make your exit! (try not to go back, even if your child cries a bit. If the crying goes on more than 5 minutes, though, you may want to return, give a comforting hug and reassure an older child that you are still nearby, but that they must now go to sleep. A baby will just need a hand laid on his or her back and soothing sounds!)
The following tip goes with hand in hand with tip #1 – the same bedtime routine should be followed each night. Of course, there are going to be times where the routine is broken – maybe a family birthday event or a disaster such as the washing machine springing a massive leak and flooding the house just as you are getting ready to start the bedtime routine! Hopefully, this kind of thing is a once-off and, by the next night your child will happily settle back into the normal routine!
The bedtime you choose for your baby or toddler should remain consistent. By that, I mean that if you decide that bedtime is 7pm, then your calming down routine should be planned with that in mind so that by 7pm (or whatever time you have chosen) the child is in bed being read his story. This will help set your child’s “biological” clock and make him more willing to go to bed as he will start to feel sleepy in the evening as that bedtime rolls around!
Tip #4 is to make your child’s sleeping space comfortable and inviting and maybe a night light might be worth investing in!!!
Why do I recommend a night light as a possibility? Well, once my son could climb out of his cot (at around 9 months!!) we had to move him into a bed –you know, one of those with the little railing on the sides that stops them from falling out. But this meant he could crawl to the end of his bed and escape – and escape he did! This tiny apparition would appear at the side of my bed in the wee hours, staring at me (a most uncomfortable feeling, I tell you!). I would take him into our bed until he fell asleep and then carry him back to his own bed. The crafty little human soon worked out what was happening so he changed his plan and I would wake up to find him sleeping on his tum, small bum up in the air, on the floor next to our bed! And this would happen 3 or 4 times during the night and I couldn’t fathom out why. The final straw was when I found him by tripping over him on my way to the bathroom as he had lain down across our bedroom doorway (having again worked out that I could still wake up and take him back to bed if he slept on the floor next to my bed!). This trip over his body (it WAS dark, people!!) gave me a “light bulb” moment and I went out and bought a little Noddy night light for his room. I really can’t say what made me think of it, other than I remembered being afraid of the dark when I was little. With that night light on, my little boy slept all night long in his own bed! Boy, was I chuffed! I guess he couldn’t tell me in words that he was scared, so he just used to come through to be near to me, the poor little mite.
Tip #5 is to try to encourage fresh air play time during the day, especially for toddlers who need to release all that energy which they never seem short of. Even going for a walk with a little baby in his pushchair or pram will allow them to get some sunshine and to inhale the fresh air (provided you stay away from busy roads!) and it is amazing how sleepy that makes a little one. At the toddler stage, it is even more important for them to be able to run and jump and generally tire themselves out as they are just sheer energy at this point in their lives.
I hope these 5 tips help all new moms and the moms who may be struggling with sleep time, have a peaceful, struggle free bedtime for their little ones. They worked for me, so hopefully they will work for you. I think that basically, the important thing is to set up a routine which suits your family and then try to stick to it as much as possible. If the routine is occasionally broken, it should be no big deal as long as you go back to the routine the next night!
Good luck and sleep tight!
Yours in motherhood