Days with babies or young children often pass by like a whirlwind – and by the end of the day it often looks like one has passed through the house too! You’re constantly on the go from morning until night but, after a long day spent rushing here there and everywhere, trips to nursery/playgroup/toddler sessions/the park, playing with countless toys, packing them away, getting them out again, several feeds/meals/snacks (and removal of these from the floor/face/hair), countless episodes of Peppa Pig, a million and one nappy changes, vague attempts to keep on top of the washing/ironing/washing up, more toys, and possibly work squeezed in there somewhere too…it’s finally bedtime.
While you’d probably give anything for a nice early night, babies and young children will often resist going to bed, no matter how tired they are. They’ve enjoyed the excitement of the day so much they just don’t want it to end! A bedtime routine can help them to wind down and relax before going to sleep, and gives you both some precious quiet cuddle time after a hectic day.
1. A nice warm bath
Add some bedtime lavender scented bubbles too, for added relaxation. This will not only soothe baby’s skin but it can also help them to sleep. Finish off with a cuddle in a nice fluffy towel. Ahhhh…
2. A soothing massage
Gently rubbing in cream, lotion or oils specifically made for baby’s sensitive skin can further help baby to relax, and will also help to prevent skin dryness. In fact, baby massage can have many benefits, explained here: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/baby-massage. Try building a gentle massage into their nightly routine before putting their nappy and sleepsuit or pyjamas on.
3. Warm milk
Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, a bedtime feed will help to keep baby satisfied until morning. Choose a quiet place away from distractions and you’ll soon start to see those eyelids droop! If your little one’s weaned, warm milk can still form part of the night time routine, providing essential calcium, vitamins and nutrients.
4. Cleaning teeth
It’s important to get babies and small children used to cleaning their teeth from an early age, so build it into the routine and it will become second nature. Ok, so this bit may not be quite so relaxing…but don’t worry if baby resists and you can’t do a really thorough job at first. The important thing is that they becomes used to it and you set the tone for a lifetime of good dental hygiene. You can find out more about caring for baby’s teeth, including when to start and how to brush, here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/looking-after-your-infants-teeth.aspx
5. Bedtime story
So, now it’s time to be placed in the cot or clamber into bed ready for a story. It’s often the best bit of the day for both parents and children. That quiet, uninterrupted time when you can both enjoy a story together – getting transported away to an imaginary world or delighting in the adventures of your favourite characters. Dim the lights, draw the curtains, and let the story begin. There are thousands of wonderful children’s books for you to share, from many wonderful authors. If you’re not sure what to choose there are recommendations by age on the Bookstart website (http://www.bookstart.org.uk/) or try your local library.
And, then it’s time for a kiss and a cuddle. Night night! Zzzzzzzzz…
How does your nightly routine work? Do you have any top tips you’d like to share? Or recommendations for great bedtime stories? Please let us know!
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