If you follow me on twitter you might think this is a bit of a strange post given the lack of sleep this week with Emma! However I wanted to share my five top tips to encourage better sleeping habits as it is a topic I see come up time and time again on twitter as well as a topic I overheard a lot this week at the various groups I go to.
I wanted to share these tips as we have had a major breakthrough with Daniel over the past ten days or so. After we moved him into a bed (from his cot) we had got into a habit of having to spend anywhere from 30-90 minutes putting him to bed. He would get up and come out of his room, and so he was not having as much sleep as he needed and we were all pretty tired.
The past week or so he has gone straight down and stayed there. I’m amazed. It’s like one night he just got it, and we are back to normal bedtimes with him. I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for us around bedtime as it is the key part of the day for me. I think nighttime sleep is so important, and that time in the evening is important for Damian and I to have time to ourselves and together.
- Be consistent – this might seem like a strange one as I am usually pretty ‘baby led’ and I’m not into having schedules and the such, but the bedtime routine at night is the one thing we don’t budge on. We are super consistent in terms of the time the children go to bed and how that routine goes. It is only really the past six months or so that other family members have put Daniel to bed. We started a routine once the first set of injections were out of the way – when they were both 7/8 weeks old. The routine was very much they were put the bed in the crib in our room at 7pm. That sometimes meant I would also go to bed (especially with Emma as I was super tired from chasing Daniel all day as well as dealing with a newborn!). I can’t think of many times the children haven’t both been in bed at 7pm.
- Have shared roles – this is really important for us. We have dinner then it’s bath time. Damian and I now have a whole set of roles that snap into place come this time. I head to run the bath and make sure the bedrooms are ready, pyjamas, bedtime nappies, books etc. Damian then brings the children up to bath them. The bath routine is the same and Daniel and Emma know that once teeth have been cleaned it’s soon time to get out and head to bed. We never have tears or tantrums fighting bath or bedtime. The children know who is bathing/washing them and the bedrooms are always ready – this is really important in the summer when the nights are lighter – having the blackout blinds down makes it dark straight away for them.
- A good calming down mechanism – for Daniel this is his books. We have read to him at bedtime for as long as I can remember, and no matter how hyper he is, as soon as he sits on our knee and has those stories he calms and relaxes. It is one of my favourite times of the day, reading those bedtime stories.We don’t yet read to Emma at bedtime – she relies on milk to get to sleep. We are getting together a plan though to wean her off that milk and to start the bedtime stories with her.
- A Favourite toy – Both Emma and Daniel have comforter toys. Daniel has monkey, dino, tigger and baby monkey. Emma has a Lion. All these are well-loved and snuggled up to in the night and I am sure make the transition to bed easier.
- Acceptance – this one is the hardest of all – but accept that newborns don’t tend to go for long stretches of sleep! It’s really hard but important to acknowledge that. In the early months with Emma we co-slept as it was the only way I could feed her and get any amount of sleep. I think she was a good 3-4 months old before she started regularly going into her crib. It was REALLY hard going, and it still is now when she wakes for her night feed. But I am (trying to be) accepting of her need for comfort overnight/
Daniel was pretty good with sleep from a relatively early age. With Emma we also had to use some other tricks to help her sleep. One of the best was a white noise app (I think it’s just called white noise baby) and for nap times and overnight we would play it for her. Since then I have been sent a Gro Hush Baby Calmer. This works in a similar way to the white noise app. It is a small device that plays three sounds which are only slightly audible to the adult but when held to the baby they can hear it well. It acts as a white noise device which helps soothe and calm the baby.
I have used this a few times with Emma to try to ease her into nap time. It has calmed her down, especially when she has been teething and quite upset, but she wasn’t overly keen on it being held against her ears. I think it would be much more useful for a younger baby. I like the concept of it and it is really easy to use and select one of the three noise (we prefer the ‘doppler’ sound). It would certainly have been better than having the sound of an ipad app playing away. The size of it also means it is portable too which is much better than having to have your phone or tablet to hand. The Gro Hush is (at the time of writing) available for just under £22. This is probably a little more than I would want to spend on something like this, but that said when white noise is the thing that works for your child then this would be a perfect product and is one to keep your eye on I think if you have a child that relies on white noise.
What are your top tips and techniques for encouraging better sleeping habits? We are so proud of Daniel – moving from the security of a cot and into a bed is a huge thing and to have started to settle so easily in a fairly short space of time is such an achievement.