SLEEP RES­CUE

Fol­low these in­struc­tions by par­ent­ing ex­pert Jo Frost and the whole fam­ily will en­joy a good night’s sleep

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Cre­ate the per­fect rou­tine for you and your lit­tle one

TIP Make sure his favourite blankie bear or comes to lis­ten to the bed­time story.

How do you get your child to sleep? Well, the an­swer is ac­tu­ally quite sim­ple. Fo­cus, de­tach from tech­nol­ogy and com­mit to a reg­u­lar rou­tine for 14 days. Do this and you’ll give your child and your­self the gift of a good night’s sleep.

Bath, book & re­peat

One of the first things I do is im­ple­ment a bed­time rou­tine. You need to es­tab­lish the dif­fer­ence between day and night, and that hap­pens with a bed­time rou­tine. That’s why you see me coach fam­i­lies through bath, book and bed. It be­comes a pre­dictable rit­ual that cre­ates sta­bil­ity and trust. A child needs trust to feel re­as­sured and safe, in or­der to get a sound night’s sleep. That’s when he knows he can slum­ber deeply, be­cause he’s be­ing taken care of by you. He needs to feel he’s tucked up safely un­der­neath your wing.

How­ever, es­tab­lish­ing a bed­time rou­tine is more than just help­ing him make the tran­si­tion from an en­er­getic day to a peace­ful night. It means that at the end of the day you are con­sciously aware that this is the last mo­ment of his day, and you’re giv­ing him your time. When you’re in the mo­ment with your child, he isn’t chas­ing for your at­ten­tion, and can re­lax. And then sleep will come eas­ily.

Step1­bath

Bath time sig­nals the tran­si­tion from day to night, and there’s a rea­son for this. Ba­bies and tod­dlers love the sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing sur­rounded by bub­bles in warm wa­ter. There’s some­thing about im­mers­ing our­selves in a warm tub that re­ally re­laxes us. Peo­ple think its dif­fer­ent for kids, but it’s just the same as for adults. If your child isn’t al­ways happy about bath time, then you need to make it a spe­cial part of his day. If it all seems like a chore, then he won’t en­joy hav­ing a bath. En­tice him with the bath toys he loves to play with, and make it fun for both of you.

When it’s time to take him out of the bath, make sure it’s a lovely ex­pe­ri­ence for him, with lots of cud­dles, tick­les and

Step2 story time

The next thing to do is to cre­ate the right at­mos­phere for read­ing a story. Think of it as set­ting the mood. For ex­am­ple, if you host a din­ner party, you cre­ate an am­bi­ence for how you want the night to be for your guests. This is so im­por­tant, be­cause we are stim­u­lated by what we see as well as what we feel. So, for a baby’s bed­time, you need to cre­ate a sooth­ing at­mos­phere. Lower the lights, pull down the blinds and draw the cur­tains, to let him know that it’s bed­time, and it’s time to wind down.

It’s im­por­tant to be­have in a way that demon­strates that it’s time to rest. Dur­ing the day we can be sur­rounded by loud noise. At bed­time we qui­eten down and bring the mood down a cou­ple of lev­els. Chil­dren are very re­cep­tive to en­ergy and their sur­round­ings. So, at bed­time put him into a sit­u­a­tion that’s very calm. Think of how your child is at a kid’s birth­day party – he isn’t go­ing to stand there and be quiet, is he? He’s go­ing to join in and be part of the en­ergy of the party. By cre­at­ing a low-key en­vi­ron­ment at bed­time, the eas­i­est option for him is to calm down.

There are some very pop­u­lar books avail­able at the mo­ment that are de­signed to help chil­dren go to sleep. Par­ents and care­givers will learn what to do to achieve the right level of calm, so they can en­cour­age their chil­dren to fall se­curely to sleep. The books en­cour­age par­ents to talk more slowly or whis­per. I like to tell

par­ents to just “bring it down”. You can eas­ily achieve the same out­come by your­self with­out these types of books. You can choose any book you and your child want to read, as long as you re­mem­ber to read it calmly and peace­fully. If your child is old enough to choose his own book, you might feel that he wants to read the same one read over and over. And as bor­ing as that might seem when you’re sit­ting there read­ing it again and again, that’s a good sign. If it’s bor­ing to you, then I would say you’re do­ing a good job, be­cause your child must have asked you to read it a dozen times, and that rep­e­ti­tion is help­ing him learn and de­velop.

Even new­borns can ben­e­fit from this rou­tine, and be­ing read to. Peo­ple think; ‘I’m not read­ing to a lit­tle baby, he doesn’t un­der­stand’. But even the small­est baby can hear and lis­ten to you. He may not un­der­stand the con­tent of what you’re read­ing, but he sees your fa­cial ex­pres­sions, and hears your tone, and that al­lows him to know that what’s be­ing done is a good thing.

Step3 bed­time

Once your child is nicely re­laxed af­ter you’ve read to him, it’s time to tuck him up safe and sound in bed. At this point, I like to talk about the lovely things we did that day, the ex­cit­ing things we will be do­ing the fol­low­ing day and ev­ery­thing we’ve got to look for­ward to.

If you have an older child, it’s a good idea to give him an op­por­tu­nity to ask you ques­tions as well, so that he’s men­tally at ease, and you’ve given him a chance to com­pletely slow down and re­lax. That way he can set­tle down for a good night’s sleep.

laugh­ter. Warm the towel be­fore­hand and en­joy the ex­tra hugs, even if you get a bit damp your­self!

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