Second Wind Woes – Firstly I typically don’t recommend winding little ones down before bed. I find this can often lead to a problematic second wind. Have you ever noticed after a feed or TV your little one springs back up as if they have recharged, yet we are thinking its bedtime. The other problem with winding little ones down too much is it may mean you are playing a large role in getting them off to sleep/drowsy, subsequently when they wake in the middle of the night they require that same role time and time again.
Avoid Overtiredness - The more overtired your little one is in the lead up to bed, the more difficulty they will have falling and staying in a good sleep. I don’t generally use a set bedtime but rather base bedtime on the awake time they cope best with. Bedtime should however fall between 5:30pm – 7:30pm. For example, a 6 month old may have an awake time of 1h 30m – 1h 45m before bed for the night, so if bub woke at 4:30pm I would make bed between 6 – 6:15pm on that particular day. Sometimes holding them out just to reach a particular time i.e 7pm can leave you with a very overtired baby.
Bedtime Routine - I use the sequence of solids, bath/shower, feed (wide awake), play, into their room for sleeping bag and song - then into bed for babies. For toddlers I recommend dinner, bath, milk or water, brush teeth, toilet, books (2 only) bed. You don’t always have to offer your little one a bath or shower every night, but it can be a great step in the routine to signify bedtime is coming.
Boundaries – It is crucial to keep your bedtime routine consistent and make sure boundaries are kept in place in the lead up to bedtime in a confident and positive way. Toddlers are very clever at manipulating bedtimes and it is not uncommon for parents to have to carry out a number of requests just to get their little ones into bed, even then having to remain in their room to achieve sleep. This often ends up being a very lengthy and drawn out process. Having a little stamp or sticker chart with each activity i.e brush teeth, milk, books that your toddler checks off is a great way to keep them distracted during the routine. This in turn may minimise push back and add a positive, interactive spin to the bedtime routine.Tara Mitchell