How the right wind down ritual can save your child's sleep

Do you struggle settling your baby to sleep? Are you forever battling your toddlers at bedtime? Do your kids jump out of bed countless times before finally falling asleep? The answer to all your problems is a consistent wind down ritual before it’s time for bed.

The importance of sleep

Sleep is a biological and physiological need for every child and is just as important as giving your child good food. During sleep your child’s:

  • Appetite is regulated

  • Immune system is strengthened

  • Cells grow

  • Memories move from short-term to long-term

  • Emotional tank is balanced out

  • Brain cleans itself

Incorporate books into your wind down ritual

Not only does reading a book to your little one before bed help to boost your bond, books are also a great way to prepare your little one for sleep, which is why I always recommend to my tired parents to include reading books into their little one’s bedtime rituals. They are a great way to start off the transition to the calm and quiet bedroom from the bright and noisy living room. It is very difficult to just move into the bedroom and expect your little one to just be ‘ready’ for sleep. Not only that studies also proof that reading to your children aids healthy brain development. Yet another great reason to incorporate story time into your children’s bedtime routine.

My own little one is like the energezier bunny all day long and will still climb on furniture after her ‘relaxing’ bath but as soon as we go into her bedroom and settle in for a story, she sits down in her favourite chair and starts to wind down.

Consistency is key

Using the same bedtime ritual every day signals to your child that it’s time to sleep. The beauty of it is that you can start implementing a wind down ritual with your newborn from day 1 and use pretty much the same ritual for years to come. You can even use the same wind down rituals before naps, just keep the same order but trim it down slightly if needed.

Prepare the sleep environment

Start off with preparing your little one’s sleep environment:

  • Dim the lights

  • Draw the curtains/blinds

  • Turn on lullabies (change to white noise once its sleep time)

  • Check the temperature (18-20 degrees is ideal)

Once the sleep environment is spot on go through the steps of your bedtime routine. The order doesn’t matter, just pick a routine that works for you and your family and be sure to follow the same order every day. You don’t need more than 15-20 minutes to prepare your little one for sleep. An example of a great wind down routine is:

  • Take your child into their sleep space

  • Swaddle them or put on a sleeping bag for older babies and toddlers

  • Have a cuddle

  • Read a couple of stories

  • Sing lullabies

  • Place them in the cot/bassinet awake

  • Make the room as dark as possible

  • Turn on white noise

Age-appropriate sleep schedule

It is very important to combine a consistent wind down ritual with an age appropriate sleep schedule to ensure you’re not trying to settle an overtired baby or toddler to sleep. The most relaxing bedtime ritual in the world won’t be enough to prepare an overtired child for sleep.

Are you at the end of your rope and in desperate need of help with your little one’s sleep? Check out my free e-book ‘The Baby Sleep Bible’ for all of my tips and secrets to getting your little one to take great naps and sleep through the night (if they no longer need night feeds).

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