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Consistency and routine is the key to establishing healthy sleep habits ensuring a better night’s sleep for all. This article highlights six tips on making bedtime as painless and stress free as possible. This includes, a dark room, establishing a routine early on, using a noise maker and putting
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Before my daughter was born, I knew that
healthy sleep habits were important to me.
During my 10 year career as a nanny and childcare provider, I have seen
dozens of sleep routines ranging from short and sweet salutations to long and
lengthy negotiations. I’ve rocked 2 year
olds to sleep, sat on the edge of school age children’s beds for hours, and
listened to many parents confess just how difficult bedtime is for them and how
they dread it every night.
Because of these experiences, I’ve become a
bit obsessed with discovering the key to keeping bedtime as simple and pain
free as possible.
Establishing a sleep routine that is simple
and consistent is the key to a better night’s sleep for the whole family. Kids
love routines. They may try to test
their boundaries but they feel safety and comfort in knowing what comes
next. A healthy sleep routine can start
right when you arrive home from the hospital.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Mine started with bath, story, breastfeeding, bed and has evolved to
bath, bottle, teeth brushing, stories, bed.
Do what makes you the most comfortable!
Confession time, I was not ready to start a
routine right when we brought my daughter home.
I was too addicted to sweet, sleepy cuddles and would often let her have
3 hour cuddle naps on my chest. At around 3 months, I started picturing having
to lie down with her at ten years old to get her to fall asleep and so I started
getting serious about instilling a routine.
My point is, start when you’re ready because that’s when you’ll be able
to follow through. Just keep in mind
that the later you start, the more “junkie” sleep habits you may have to break
so be patient if it takes some time.
Babies are often telling us that they are
tired by pulling their ears, rubbing their eyes, etc. Still, I know there have
been many times that I’ve waited too long and have missed the window of
opportunity for sleep and have ended up
with a hysterical baby. When I was sick
of my 8 month old napping for 30 minutes at a time, I wrote down the times of
day she started giving me sleep cues for an entire week. What I found was she was always tired around
10am, 2pm, and 6pm and so I focused on those times as her 2 naps and bedtime
and found that her 30 minute naps naturally extended to 1 hour and a half each.
The darker the better- blackout curtains
and all. I even get a little extreme and
cover the light on the fan during the summertime with a tea towel so that it is
literally pitch black.
My cousin tells me this is a bit controversial
but any superb baby sleeper that I’ve met over the years has had a noise
maker. I like the Conair. Just keep the machine as far away from the
crib as possible and the noise volume on low. If you don’t want to buy one, a fan will have
the same effect.
I know they are expensive but they are so
worth it. My sister made fun of me for
getting one because we live in a small condo but I love knowing when I need to
go in and when I don’t. If my daughter’s standing and screaming in her
crib, I know that she won’t go back to sleep without a small cuddle but if
she’s lying down and crying she almost
always goes back to sleep within 5 minutes on her own.
I wasn’t always great at this but
somewhere around 6 months I really made a conscious effort to do this more
often especially during the daytime. If
babies always need to nurse to go back to sleep, they have more trouble
learning to put themselves back to sleep when they naturally wake up for
whatever reason in the middle of the night as we all do from time to time.
Finally, be good to yourself and know that
it’s ok to break your own rules every once and awhile. The key is to be as consistent as
possible. Your healthy sleep routine
won’t collapse if you nurse a sick baby back to sleep one night or let your
upset toddler sleep in your bed one night on vacation.
Dawn Whittaker is originally from England and currently lives in Langley BC with her three young children, husband, and family dog Willow.
As a former nanny, night nanny, and trouble shooting nanny, Dawn has a wide range of experience in all child-rearing related issues. Her experience as both a childcare provider and as a parent has provided her with a bird's eye view of the difference from working with other people's children to her own.
Over the last 9 years, Dawn has supported over 4000 thousand families, to help them achieve confidence in their own parenting abilities. Dawn approaches each new client relationship with a no-nonsense, non-judgemental approach (combined with a healthy dose of British wit).
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