When I speak to parents of Toddlers the most common thing I hear is that their bedtime routine is a whole production that can last up to 2 hours. Teeth are brushed, then there’s a show, then a bath, then a snack, then a book then some iPad time, then into bed and then another hour to fall asleep. Sounds exhausting right? With younger babies it can also be a production including a story, some music, a feed, some more rocking and then a good chunk of time to actually fall asleep.
When I tell parents that a bedtime routine should be (and can be) between 20 to 30 minutes long, with 6 simple steps, they look at me like I am crazy.
It can happen and works wonders, trust me.
So here is an example of what a routine should/could look like:
- Song/2 books
Now if you baby has a feed to sleep association, where they are getting drowsy on the bottle too close to being placed in their crib, I suggest feeding them before the bath.
If you don’t bathe your little one every day, just run a warm wet washcloth over them.
Routines are key to cue your little one’s mind and body that it is time to wind and sleep is coming.
Bath time is something that is so different to what happens the rest of the day so is a good starting point.
I also suggest you set the scene before starting the routine by dimming lights, pull the blinds down, draw the curtains and enhance that melatonin (sleep hormone) naturally.
Being consistent with your routine is the key to success. There should be no random play and the steps should be the same every night. Routines should take place in the bathroom and bedroom only. If you have a Toddler, ensure that all needs are met, such as that extra cuddle, a glass of water, snack. As once you start the routine there is no leaving the bedroom.
It may take a little time for you to get used to doing it all in 30 minutes, but keep at it and you will see how smoothly things go. You can tuck your little ones into their beds and enjoy the rest of your evening, however you choose.