It probably feels like just when you think you’ve nailed your little one’s bedtime routine and a good night’s sleep, it all flips on its head. Bedtimes become fraught, and frequent waking is now the norm.
These changes in sleep routines can be due to a wide range of factors, from teething and illness, to growth spurts and their natural development and growth – and now you have the addition of a clock change to throw into the mix!
It’s a struggle we’re all too familiar with, so here are our top tips on bedtime routines.
Find a routine that works for you and try to stick to it
Having an evening routine which prepares your baby for bed is not only great for them, but can also be a god-send for your own sanity!
Parents generally find it really helpful to stick to the same timing and routine each night so their baby knows what to expect. Bedtime routines can include different activities with the overall aim to calm and prepare for bed. You don’t need to spend long on this routine – even 20 minutes will do! – but it can have a huge impact on getting them to sleep.
What does your routine look like?
Every family will have a different routine that works for them and their baby, so have a play about with different routines to find something that works for you all.
Evening routines before bed could include:
- Playing a quiet game to get out the last of their stored up energy
- Bath time
- Gentle massage
- Nappy and pyjama change
- Reading a story
- Singing a lullaby
Babies only need a bath a couple of times a week, but they can be very calming if your baby likes baths. The routine of warm water and quality time together with some skin to skin, before getting them cosy and ready in the low-lit bedroom, can really help calm them down and raise their melatonin levels ready for sleep. If your baby doesn’t like a bath, then a gentle massage can be incredibly calming and relaxing.
A baby can recognise regular bedtime routines fairly quickly, which can help to regulate their internal body clock and help with sleep patterns.
Just how we like routine and sleep better if we go to bed and wake at similar times, this is similar for your baby – they’ll be more relaxed if they know what’s coming next, so aim to introduce a regular bedtime between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.
Tip: Remember, babies won’t realise that the clocks have changed, so when you move the clocks forward or back an hour, they might not be quite ready for it to be bedtime, or be ready earlier than you, so just make these adjustments slowly.
While what your baby eats before bed is by no means a magic button, it can definitely help – and we’re all about doing anything we can to make it easier!
Different foods affect the body in different ways, and timing is just as important as what you give them. Like us, after eating, babies’ bodies work to digest their food and their body temperature is raised. This will mean that if you give them large, heavy meals before putting them down, they’ll find it harder to go to sleep, so aim to feed them at least an hour and a half before bedtime.
What to give
Foods which are naturally high in sugar, like white bread or plain white pasta are burnt through quicker and spike blood sugar levels, so avoiding them before bedtime will be helpful. Instead, offer them slow burning carbohydrates like sweet potato with a quality source of protein, like pulses which contain B vitamins – key in the production of magnesium which can help the body relax. Foods such as oats, chicken and turkey contain tryptophan, an amino acid which helps the body make serotonin and relax.
Great recipe ideas for bedtime meals:
- Carrot & sweet potato puree: https://www.mylittlepiccolo.com/recipes/carrot-sweet-potato/
- Baked oats: https://www.mylittlepiccolo.com/recipes/baked-oats-with-apple-cinnamon/
- Tomato & lentil pasta: https://www.mylittlepiccolo.com/recipes/tomato-lentil-angel-pasta/
- Pear & strawberry yoghurt: https://www.mylittlepiccolo.com/recipes/pear-strawberry-yoghurt/