Establishing a bedtime routine is very important in the overall context of sleep. Children can become very stimulated in the evening even though their drive for sleep can be high. Melatonin is at its highest but if naps have been short, so is the cortisol. This is where over tiredness can kick in and take over. Here is my step by step guide to the ideal bedtime routine for a baby of 6 months and above;
- I recommend starting your bedtime routine approx. 2 hour from bedtime - ideally 7pm!
- Ensure they have a good carb based meal at about 5pm. I don’t recommend protein in the evening meal until approx. 9 months.
- Give them a bath after this evening meal. However, a bath will not necessarily make them sleep any better but it’s a nice way to give your child the que that bedtime is coming. This is all about the bedtime associations that we discussed earlier
- After the bath go back to a brightly lit living space, not the bedroom for the last feed, breast or bottle, for the day. You will see that I am promoting moving feeding from sleep.
- After the feed engage in some gentle floor play with your little one. Allow them time on their play mat.
- About 20 mins before your child is due to go to bed, bring them to their bedroom, dim down the lights and draw the curtains. Read two age appropriate books. At this age range gentle singing or humming is a lovely way to give them the cue that bedtime is coming.
- Change their nappy and pop them into their sleeping bag.
- Once you have done this, turn off the light, kiss them good night and pop them into their cot for them to start to settle off to sleep.
- Use the same routine day in day out when winding down for bedtimes and naps. This will give your child, the signals that bedtime is coming and act as a cue for sleep.
Remember consistency is key. By having a repetitive bedtime routine your child will know that bedtime is coming and know what to expect!
Erica Hargaden is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant with her private practise Babogue. She is the creator of the online sleep program the Sleep Series and also a Mum of three. For more information check out her website www.babogue.com, her social media channels @babogue_sleep on Instagram and @baboguesleepsolutions on Facebook. She can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 86 8260887