Baby mummas, we know the struggle of getting your little one down to sleep. We have been there! But, there are solutions.
The one we love most is something that we call “The Wind Down”. Essentially, it’s a routine that you follow pretty consistently on a nightly basis to cue your child into the fact that bedtime is coming. Believe us, this will change the balance of control at bedtime, particularly, if your child is at the top of the dog pile.
The Wind Down works great for babies, but we’ve found that similar routines with adapted wind down activities can work just as well for toddlers and slightly older kids. Change it up to suit you!
Why Use A Wind Down Routine
A wind down routine could save your sanity if you have a child that seems to hate to go to sleep. Having a child like this is no indicator of your skills as a parent. Sometimes, kids are just reluctant to get into a sleep mindset. They’ll basically scream themselves silly until exhaustion knocks them out for the night. It’s enough to drive any parent crazy. That’s where the wind down routine comes in.
As we said above, a wind down routine is there to signal to your child that bedtime is on the way. It should be consistent, and that consistency is comforting for your child. It’s also a good way to calm your child, and it’s great if it contains activities that provide an opportunity for physical touch, cuddling and being together. With mix of the calm and the cuddles, your little one should soon be walking the line from drowsy to dreaming.
Good Wind Down Activities
1. Warm Bath/Shower
Having a warm bath or shower is a wonderful way to start a wind down routine. Of course, for young babies, regular washing is not necessary and can agitate them more. The key with relaxing your baby in a bath is to really ease them in, put some calming music on or some white noise, or just talk and sing to them. Make lots of slow movements, and try and avoid exciting them too much.
2. Baby Massage
If you’ve never tried baby massage before, we would really recommend it. No, we aren’t talking about a shiatsu or anything intense, but a very gentle massage can be super calming for babies, and it also gives you a chance to have some nice time together. Remember, babies are calmed and feel more connected through physical touch. Just get a sensitive lotion and put some on your hands before rubbing it in during your massage.
Now, while we definitely think the first two parts of the wind down routine, i.e. the warm bath and the baby massage, are must-dos, the next four are optional. You can take one of them, or do them all, depending on your child and the time you have.
3. Gentle Music
Playing some calming music can have such a relaxing effect on a child, particularly a baby. The issues that babies have struggling with sleep are often explained by being overstimulated, so a bit of soft music, or even a calming lullaby, can make all the difference.
4. Reading Books
Even if your child can’t read or in some cases speak, there are benefits to getting them into a routine of pre-bedtime reading. Literacy really does start early, and it is promoted by any reading or word-based activities, so you are making a difference! Plus, the sound of a parental voice can really make a child drowsy, making reading perfect for just before bed.
5. White Noise
If your baby has older siblings that go to bed later than them, investing in something that produces white noise, like a machine or even your phone on a speaker, is a good idea. White noise is noise that fills up the background, like rain falling or even just the noise of static. It can be super relaxing, and gives the child something to focus on instead of the other noises in your home.
Is there anything more relaxing than being snuggled or rocked by someone you love? If you’re a baby, probably not! Close physical contact with a parent helps a baby to feel safe and loved, and if they’re drowsy, it can certainly send them over the edge. A child put into their crib drowsy is much more likely to fall asleep than one put in there alert. This is the closing move of the wind down routine, and it works!