Friday, 6 November 2015

5 TIPS ON ESTABLISHING A BEDTIME ROUTINE FOR YOUR BABY



If there is any advice I can give to new parents, establishing a bedtime routine would be at the top of the list.  Babies sleep a lot in the first few months, waking every few hours for a feed, that's normal and expected, however establishing a routine as soon as possible will make for an easy life further down line.  I was lucky in the sense that I was the last in my group of friends to become a mummy and so I was able learn from their mistakes.  In saying that, It was always my intention to get Oscar into a routine fairly quickly, I wanted him to be able to go down to sleep and settle himself and bedtime had to be at a reasonable time.  It's important that Mummy and Daddy gets some downtime to recharge the batteries.

Here are my top tips on establishing a good bedtime routine:


1. It's never to early to start
Implementing a routine as early as possible will never be a bad thing.  Babies like routine, feeding, changing, sleeping, it's what they know and need.   One thing I wish I'd done was start a bit earlier, I wish I had limited visitors within the first few weeks.  We had so many people coming to see Oscar that it became overwhelming and I felt i'd had very little time with him 1-1 in the first few weeks.  If I had restricted visitors it would have given me the opportunity to establish a better sleep pattern throughout the day, and his sleep may not have been as disturbed from all of the cuddles he was getting.  Never the less Oscar took to his bedtime routine like a duck to water.  We started a proper routine at 4 months old and this seemed to work well.

2. Consistency is key
Once you decided that you are going to implement a routine you need to be consistent.  Stopping and starting is confusing for your baby.  Although some days are extremely hard, you must persevere.  Our bedtime routine consisted of Oscar having his bottle downstairs and once he was in a milk coma we'd move him to his cot, we always tried to make sure that he was still awake, that way he became familiar with his surroundings and if he woke he'd know where he was.

3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Along with consistency comes repetition, when you begin your routine try and do the same thing every night around the same time.  So, for us we'd make sure Oscar had his bath around 6.30pm, we'd then dry and change him into his pyjama's.  Whilst one of us prepared his bottle, the other would give him a cuddle, he'd lie in our arms and this became time for relaxation and winding down.  Repeating the same process each night meant that Oscar knew what was coming and he began associating the routine with bedtime.

4. Don't feel bad, they need to learn
As first time parents, its a bit like the blind leading the blind, however going back to point 2, consistency needs to remain in place.  It's hard to hear your little one cry and its easy to just give in and pick them up.  I know there will be mixed views on this, but this is just our view.  If I put Oscar down and he got upset, I'd leave him for a minute or so then go back in and settle him, i'd stroke his face or rub his tummy, this created reassurance that I wasn't far away.  In the earlier days this was never a problem, however around 7-8 months when Oscar became more aware he started having a little cry every night for about a week.  I persevered with the process and wouldn't lift him unless he was seriously upset, most of the time he was just making a noise and not actually crying.  Again consistency prevailed and within a week he once again knew that it was bed time and that meant time for sleeping.  No one wants to be the bad parent, but your child won't hold it against you.  Just remember your baby needs sleep and they'll thank you for it later.

5. Extend your routine into the day time
Your baby will also need to have a nap throughout the day, possible more than one.  Many experts say that if your child sleeps throughout the day they will also sleep better at night.  It seems bizarre that the more sleep they get the better they sleep in the evening, however I am a firm believer that this is true!  Oscar enjoyed having his naps in his pushchair until he was around 8-9 months old, he now has his naps in his cot.  Repeating the same process above, making a slight change around the routine will most definitely help you establish a day time nap routine.  These naps in my opinion are essential.  If Oscar doesn't sleep in the afternoon, by 5pm he is grouchy, irritated and difficult to manage.  Get nap time sorted as soon as possible and you will reap the rewards, giving you a happy child!

Oscar is now 15 months old, he still goes to bed at 7pm every night, his routine is the same, although now he is fully awake when he goes down and most nights (unless he is ill or playing up) he turns over and goes straight to sleep.  From 7pm onwards my husband and I have free time to catch up and enjoy a bit of us time.

If you have any tips to share please leave them in the comments

Kirsty x
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