Posted by Vered on September 21 2010
Bedtimes are often tough, especially with babies and toddlers. Many toddlers try to prolong bedtime for as long as possible, and many babies protest when you leave them – often at the top of their lungs! But patience and persistence can result in peaceful, pleasant bedtimes. Here are a few tips to help you get there.
1. Keep it Quiet and Dark. An hour before bedtime, try to keep the room quiet and dark. This will signal to your baby that it’s time to relax and slow down.
2. Turn on a night-light. The room shouldn’t be completely dark. It’s a good idea to leave a night light on in your child’s bedroom.
3. Take your time. A rushed bedtime routine will not work. A successful, relaxing bedtime routine should take at least an hour.
4. Include a warm bath in your bedtime routine. A warm bath relaxes the muscles and will help your child fall asleep.
5. Reading a story before bed is a great way to bond with your child and to introduce her to the joy of reading.
6. Make sure your child goes to sleep at the same time every night. This will help regulate his sleep patterns and will make it easier for him to fall asleep. This works for adults too, by the way!
7. Room temperature in the nursery should be fairly cool – no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To make sure your baby is comfortable, it is also helpful to use cotton baby bedding.
8. Leave your child's room while they're still awake so they can learn to settle themselves. If she starts to cry, go back to her and comfort her, ideally without taking her out of bed. However, do not let her become hysterical! If she cries hard, it’s OK to take her out of bed and comfort her, but always put her back and insist that it’s time to go to sleep. Go back as many times as you need (you might have a sleepless night or two). Avoid harsh “cry it out” techniques. Be firm but gentle and always be there for your baby.
9. Don’t expect too much too early. You can start a bedtime routine at a very early age, but leaving your baby to cry, even just for a minute, before she’s six months old is not a good idea in our opinion.
10. If you co-sleep, you’ll avoid some of the issues of babies who sleep in a crib, but you still want to find a way to signal to your baby that it’s time to go to sleep – many co-sleeping babies try to play with their parents instead of going to sleep.