My girls are all good sleepers, thank goodness! I need my sleep and wouldn’t be happy getting up a few times a night. Equally, I need some chill-out child free time in the evening (to catch up on my favourite TV programs and just unwind), so bed time has to be at a decent time, without fuss. And on the whole we manage this (most nights). How? Well for me establishing a good, firm bedtime routine early on is the answer.
Here’s how we’ve managed this with all three girls, more recently of course with baby Iris.
I once read that a baby/ young toddler typically needs 12 hours sleep per night, so you need to work it back from when they usually wake up. If like Iris it’s 7am, then 7pm is a good bedtime.
As for getting your baby to bed, a routine should to start by allowing your child a cot/bed of their own, and getting them used to self-soothing so that they have the ability to get themselves to sleep in a relaxed way. Iris went into her ‘big cot’ at six months, which is when we started to establish this more firm, yet warm and calm approach.
Iris’ routine includes; a bath, some warm milk, a song or book (if she’s not too drowsy from the milk) and then bed. We try to make it a fun, cosy time for her – making it clear she has my (or my husband’s) full attention.
I go through this little routine and then leave the room to deal with my other two little monkeys. If she sits up straight away and cries, I’ll keep comforting her but from that point on I have less physical interaction, no long cuddles, just a quick reassuring hug and kiss and then I walk away again.
Tip… If your baby seems to be afraid of the dark or being alone, try low lighting, a special teddy (maybe one that lights up), or a low background noise such as a soothing nursery rhyme.
Remember you’re in charge, and if you stick to it, it should work! I fully understand this is firm (but I stress, calm) approach is not for everyone but I can testify it’s worked for us, three times now! During the day I don’t really have a routine and am much more relaxed, letting the kids do what comes naturally but bed time is different. At bed time I’m in charge and they accept it because they don’t know any different.
Iris is wearing an aden+anais sleeping bag in these pictures. We’re big fans of aden+anais and these sleeping bags are made of the same beautifuly soft, cotton muslin used in their famous swaddle blankets and muslin squares.