A good bedtime routine can make all the difference in helping your child to get a good night's sleep. It's best to start good bedtime practices whilst your child is still a baby so that the routine is something that becomes a pattern that gives your child security before bedtime and provides them with important cues that sleepy time is coming to avoid night time meltdowns. If you're not sure about what to include in your child's routine, here are a few hints on possible inclusions.
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A good meal You can decide on what components make up your child's routine, but many parents have success with starting the routine from dinnertime onwards. It's important that the evening meal provides your child with a good hearty dinner before bed, but efforts should be made to avoid overeating which can lead to tummy ache. It's a good idea to avoid caffeine and too much sugar so that your child is not overstimulated prior to bedtime. Sitting down for dinner as a family (without the TV on), can also be a great opportunity to catch up together and check in on how everyone's day has gone. As kids get older, this can become a very important part of family time together.
Bathtime After dinner, bath time is often the next stage of the wind down process. A warm bath can help your child relax and start to feel sleepy. Look out for special bath timeproducts fused with essential oils that help to calm and relax prior to bedtime.
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Milk Dependent upon the age of your child, they may still enjoy a warm drink of milk. Over time this will likely get phased out, but for young children (or babies), a milk drink can kick start the quieter portion of the bedtime routine , and can help to settle them.
Baby Massage Some babies enjoy the relaxing properties of a gentle massage before bedtime. The Raising Children Network do a great visual overview of how to correctly massage your baby here.
Story Time I love the selection of children's books available, and story time is likely my favourite part of the bedtime routine for me. It's good to read to your children even when they are tiny babies, so this is something you can start from the day that they are born, and it's a great routine to get into. Choose books that will help the wind down to bedtime, rather than action oriented stories that might get your child all excited. A nice story is 'Good Night Moon', by by Margaret Wise Brown, where each page inches the little bunny closer to bedtime using subtle visual cues to get you there.
This cute Dinosnores Kitten CD will help your child get sleepy
Soothing CD Some children benefit from a music or a relaxation CD, and parents of multiple children can certainly use these to great advantage if their time is split settling one child and needing to occupy the other child too. A great example of this to try are the award winning CD's by Dinosnores, which are sleep time stories developed by childcare and language specialists. The array of stories by Dinosnores, take your child on a journey of relaxation and calm, and help your child to get to their own state of quiet tranquility. Using calming music, or a soothing story CD certainly beats the debate of telling an independent toddler to just, 'go to sleep', and instead you can ask them to lie down and listen to the story, and enjoy the peaceful relaxation that follows. The Dinosnores CD's feature a 30 minute story that then follows with a natural soundscape that allows the experience to last for an hour for more details on their range check out their website here.
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Good night's Always make sure you say good night to your child, especially toddlers and preschoolers, as they'll definitely let you know if you've skipped on this stage. If you want to avoid your toddler or preschooler getting out of bed to come and claim a final goodnight, make sure you've said your good night and had a good night kiss and cuddle before they head off to Sleepytown. It's a good idea that if you have guests at your home, that your child says good night to them too.
If you have more than one child, consider how you can incorporate certain aspects together, such as bathing both children at once, or doing story time together to make the bedtime routine run as smoothly as possible.
What works in your family? What night time routine do you have?