Babies and toddlers sometimes experience bedtime as separation when they’re wide awake and left alone at bedtime. They would like to stay with their mummies and daddies, to feel protected.
Babies, like other human beings, need healthy rest, but often find it hard to fall asleep. Getting them off to sleep therefore becomes vital and parents are torn between two opposing aims:
Making them feel that you are close to them and getting some sleep themselves.
How to encourage sleep
There are many theories and methods for getting children off to sleep.
Often parents try them all: from giving babies syrups to driving them around in the car, singing lullabies and oftentimes, exhausted, putting them to sleep in their own double bed next to them.
Some of these practices, however, aren’t always ideal for babies or parents.
How sleep changes with growth
Newborn babies sleep for many hours during the course of the day. Not all of them, however, acquire a regular sleep-wake cycle rhythm right from the start and this can be the most irregular sleep pattern for baby.
The rhythm should now become more normal, including a more or less long sleep at night and two naps during the day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
This is the ideal age to introduce a bedtime routine in the evening, involving a comfortable environment, a full tummy, soft lighting and soothing melodies. A nice massage after bath time can also put them in a sleepier state.
Around one year of age, you can supplement the bedtime routine with some stories ready by mummy or daddy and with a comfort object – a friend that will keep your baby company whilst falling asleep. A cuddly plush toy is always a favourite at this age.
After 18 months:
As babies grow, they gradually stop needing a morning nap and require only night-time sleep and an afternoon rest, which for many children continues to be necessary up to nursery school.
Tips for perfect zzzz’s
- Giving your baby a sweet bottle to help them sleep. Research suggests that this habit may lead to development in tooth decay. Rooibos tea is often suggested if a bottle work well.
- Playing lively games with your baby or getting them over-excited before bedtime. Mobile phones, tablets, video games and other electronic entertainment should not be permitted.
- Putting them to bed too late.
- Stay calm. Worried parents sometimes transmit apprehension and anxiety onto their children, who will then find it harder to fall asleep.
- Use soft lighting in the room. Lamps, projectors and night lights are a great way to create a relaxing atmosphere in the nursery.
- Sing a lullaby or play soft music to relax them.
- Create a routine as soon as possible in their lives. Routines are reassuring, repeated and predictable and therefore give a baby confidence that everything is under control.
- Keep to a set time and introduce a playful routine that makes bedtime a pleasant time for them, such as saying goodnight to their soft toys.
- Always perform the same gestures. Personal hygiene, brushing teeth, putting on pj’s, saying a prayer etc.
- Use a co-sleeping crib if you can – keeping baby close at hand but still independent.
Did you know?
Babies go off to sleep more easily when being rocked as it reminds them of the motions they felt inside the womb.
Don’t be worried if:
Your child wants to join you in your bed. Like all young animals, babies want to stay close to their mummy. They gradually learn to accept separation calmly.
Did you know?
Soothers can help babies fall asleep more easily because the sucking motion is naturally calming and relaxing. Try the Chicco Physio Soft, orthodontic, soft one-piece silicone pacifier.