Joanna is a certified holistic paediatric sleep consultant and founder of Sleep Superstars. She created Sleep Superstars after her own experience of expensive sleep consultants made her realise that there was a better way to give parents personalised sleep advice for their children. She uses her professional training and experience to provide top quality advice.
Her website allows parents to purchase a sleep plan that is personalised to their child and is available instantly.
Joanna has been driven by a desire to make a real difference to exhausted parents who need affordable sleep advice tailored specifically to their family’s needs.
Today, she shares her top tips on how to create a calm and soothing bedtime routine to get your child into the mood for sleep.
Why a bedtime routine is important
By the time it gets to bedtime, we parents are exhausted and simply want to get our children to sleep as quickly as possible. We often resort to screen time to calm our child down whilst we sort things out and tidy up. Some families don’t have any kind of bedtime routine and quite often bedtime can become a battle of wills as you are desperate for your evening to begin, whereas your child fights going to sleep at night. Just imagine how much easier it would be if you had a calm and soothing routine.
You can start your bedtime routine at a time that is convenient for you and your family. I usually recommend aiming for a 7pm bedtime, but many parents will choose a later time. Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep consistent. This means putting your child to bed at the same time every night. This will help their internal body clock learn when to expect sleep, so they will naturally feel sleepy at bedtime. The timing of the bedtime routine depends on the age of your child. A young baby under 6 months will only need quite a short routine (perhaps around 15-20 minutes) whereas a toddler may need around 30-40 minutes.
What should be part of the routine?
Your child’s bedtime routine can include a number of things and I encourage parents to select what works best for them. This includes:
- bath time
- brushing teeth
- cream and/or massage
- nappy change using your mama bamboo nappies and change into pyjamas
- bedtime books
- calming songs
For children over a year, a “now-and-next” board or post-box can work really well. This is a fun method that allows your child to know what’s coming next. What you do is print out pictures of each part of the bedtime routine and either ask your child to stick it on to a poster with some Velcro or alternatively create a “post-box” (out of an old shoe box or tissue box) and ask your child to “post” the picture-card each time they complete that part of the routine.
Do I have to bath my child every night?
Many parents believe that they have to bath their child every night. There is no doubt that a warm bath can be very soothing and if given on a daily basis can help your child recognise that bedtime is approaching. So, it can be a great part of your routine. However, daily bathing of babies and young children isn’t strictly necessary and may not be appropriate where your child suffers from allergies like eczema or dry skin. Please speak to your medical professional for more information on bathing children with a skin condition. Either way, with or without a daily bath, you can still ensure that your child’s bedtime routine is calm and soothing.
Don’t forget about the bedroom environment
Once you have finished in the bathroom, aim to keep your child in their bedroom for the rest of their bedtime routine. This will help them learn by association that it will soon be time to go to sleep. Try to keep the lighting dim whilst you read your child their bedtime stories and songs. Darkness will help the natural release of the hormone melatonin (which makes your child feel sleepy). You may also want to look at the bedroom temperature – keeping it cool but not too cold. Aim for around 18°C.
Say no to screen time
The blue light emitted from screens (and often from other baby products and lights) interferes with the production of melatonin, so it’s really quite important to avoid these for at least one hour before bedtime. If your child needs a night light, it is better to choose a red light rather than a blue one.
Creating a bedtime routine for more than one child can be tricky. If you have children of different ages, it may be difficult to create a combined bedtime routine. One option is for each parent to put one child to bed. Alternatively, if that isn’t possible, it often helps to give your older child a quiet activity to do on their own (such as drawing, colouring in, reading or a puzzle) whilst you put your younger child to bed. After your younger child is settle you can then start the routine with your older child. In some cases, you can recruit your older child to help put your younger one to sleep, for example, they may read them a simple bedtime story.
Do you need sleep help?
Please use the coupon code “MAMABAMBOO” to get a £10 gift card for Mama Bamboo when you purchase a Sleep Plan from Sleep Superstars.