If asked for only one tip on how to get a baby or toddler sleeping well, it would probably be to get a good calming bedtime routine established. A perfect bedtime routine has 5 elements:
TIME – Begin your bedtime routine at the same time each day. All babies and toddlers should be in bed between 6 and 7 pm. Begin your bedtime routine with a bath an hour before you want your little one down. Make sure your baby or toddler has an age-appropriate awake time between his afternoon sleep and bedtime.
ORDER – Each day stick to a predictable order between supper and lights out: an example of a healthy bedtime routine is:
- 5:00 pm: Supper – No TV between supper and bath – rather play with your baby or toddler
- 6:00 pm: Bath – calming with soothing smells
- 6:30 pm: Massage and dress your little one but keep him in his room after his bath
- 6:45 pm: Last feed of the day
- 7:00 pm: Into bed
CALMING – Keep the time between bath and bed calming:
- Soothing smells of lavender and chamomile
- Lulling sounds of white noise or lullabies
- Relaxing movement – rock your baby a little in your arms
- Dim the lights and remove mobiles from over the cot
- Soothing massage
- Warm milk and sucking on a breast or bottle or dummy / pacifier are also soothing
CONSISTENT – A bedtime routine becomes a trigger for all the wonderful brain hormones that will settle your little one. By keeping the bedtime routine completely consistent your baby will anticipate bed and not fight sleep.
HEALTHY SLEEP ASSOCIATION – As you prepare for putting your little one into bed, ensure he has his ‘sleepy blanky’ – something he can hold and love as he drifts off to sleepyland.