Sleep – the holy grail of all new parents! Unless you are that one in a million, your little one will be keeping you up at some point. It might be from the moment they are born, from the 4 month regression or maybe from a randomly chosen night. Every baby is different and will start not sleeping at different times. There are also different types of not sleeping. Do they just not go to sleep? Do they wake up and not go back to sleep? Or, if you are really lucky, your little one might do both! We have a multitude of strategies to get our little ones to sleep, but personally, I think one trumps all others. A bedtime routine!
Why is Routine Important?
Routines seem to split the parenting population. Some passionately believe that a baby can’t be put into a routine and that they should be allowed to do what they need to, when they need to. Others rigidly hold on to a routine as the only bit of control they have! Personally I am in the latter camp for two main reasons. I like to know what is happening. I work much better and am much calmer when I know what is happening next. But more importantly so do babies.
In a world where they can control very little of what is happening around them; babies respond well when things are predictable. Babies and toddlers are too young to understand what will be next and what is expected of them. This can be scary and disconcerting for them. Many things in the day cannot be explained to them nor can we warn them of the hundreds of things we need to do. However, bedtime happens every day. By developing a routine around bedtime, your baby will know what is about to happen and what they are meant to be doing. Your baby will naturally be calmer as they will know what is happening.
What a Routine Could Look Like
Personally, I don’t think it really matters what is in the routine. There are hundreds of different examples on the internet. Eg mother and baby, baby centre, mothercare, to name just three of thousands. Many talk of changing the routine as your child grows older, personally I won’t be changing the routine until I am no longer needed.
Calm down time
This is important as it gives your child time to realise that bedtime is coming. It’s a non-verbal warning that bedtime will soon be here. Activities like puzzles, reading, drawing are all good for calming down. These are difficult with a new born for obvious reasons but I still had a puzzle and talked to my daughter about what we were doing. My second daughter was just apart of what was happening with my eldest.
Getting ready for bed
This includes having a bath, brushing teeth, changing into pyjamas. Even with my newborn I made sure I changed her ready for bed. Yes this meant taking off one sleep suit and putting on another one, but it is an important cue that it is now sleeping time.
Some will choose to feed at this point, it is recommended that you don’t feed to sleep but just until your baby is full. I never fed in my bedtime routine. In fact my last feed was a 5pm, when we would usually have dinner. I did have to dream feed at 10pm for 6 months with both of mine. I personally, didn’t want to get my children in to the habit of feeding just before bedtime as I wanted to keep my routine the same as they grew up.
This bit includes anything you want to do to say good night. I read a story, talk about what we will be doing tomorrow and then sing to them. I only read one book and always ends with the character in bed. For the first 6 months I read the same book and then slowly added others.
After their song it is simple, I love you, goodnight.
How Can it Save You Money?
Quite simply you will not be sleep deprived! Sleep deprivation will mean you spend more money. It makes you more accident prone, effects your decision making and increases spending for convince. The more sleep deprived you are the more likely you are to buy a coffee and snacks. Although these are essential for making it through the day when you are tired, they do nothing for your bank balance!
Bedtime routine – a necessity of new parents and savers alike!