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