Bedtime routines are one of the issues that cause the most doubts for parents who come to us.
If, on the one hand, it is commonly accepted that having a routine is good for everyone (parents and babies/children), on the other, many parents struggle with what to do and how to know if the routine they have is the ideal routine for their child.
After many questions posed to me and Aurora, here you go, 3 surefire tips for your rest and success in the “arduous” task of helping our most loved ones to sleep:
1. Have a stable routine.
A good routine is one that can be applied in 99% of the nights.
This scares many parents, but, to better understand, a routine is a series of recurring activities/actions that are done in the same order. If it is wearing pyjamas, bedtime story and good night kiss it is always pyjamas, story and good night kiss. If the night is at grandfather’s house, the grandfather will start by pyjamas, tell the story and kiss him/her good night. 😉 The child’s/baby’s bedtime routines are not fixed to places or people. But they must have a fixed order of activities. Until they have a fixed routine with good results, avoid exceptions. Be consistent.
2. Promote the appearance of natural sleep before starting the routine.
The outcome of the routine depends more on the existence of natural sleep than on the duration/type of activities of the routine itself.
Starting a routine with no sleep is like starting the party on an empty stomach. The routine should include some care for the child’s environment that favours the appearance of natural sleep, for example, the reduction of ambient and natural light 2 hours before bedtime. (Close blinds, use only weaker lamps and with warm tones (yellow), avoid digital screens without blue radiation filter and with a lot of brightness, etc …)
3. Do not make too many changes to the routine (even when it is not yet properly tuned).
We know that a routine is good (it works) when, regardless of the time it starts, it ends with the same result, that is, a child sleeping peacefully.
Many parents try many different strategies each night, a little out of desperation, perhaps. However, a routine is only a routine when it is stable. And, regardless of age, no more than one slight change to the routine should be introduced every 3 or 4 days, at the risk of causing the opposite effect, which is to let the child agitated and anxious due to the lack of stability brought about by replication of the daily routine. So think carefully before making changes, choose carefully and think long term, but when you do introduce them, be consistent (at least a few weeks) until you see the result.