Family travel and lifestyle blog
Why a good sleep routine is so important - Parenting
AD - Emma's Diary got in touch to ask me to share my personal experience of sleep routine with my children.
Please note - Until your baby is six months old, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot, in the same room as you, whether it’s during the night or at nap time in the day.
Becoming a parent is an incredible experience and while you are in the bubble of newborn baby love you slowly start to realise that life will never be the same again. Immediately you are thrust into sleepless nights, feeding routines, navigating so many new situations and often this ends in exhaustion. While pregnant we prepare ourselves for the lack of sleep, everyone we bump into will tell you that and offload some advice whether you asked for it or not. We know going into family life that sleep will be sparse in the first few weeks and months but unless you develop some kind of sleep routine that can be extended into years and I know, I've been there myself.
Now I would like to point out that I am not a health care professional but I am a mum of two very active boys and I thought I'd share my personal experience as I often found the best advice was from those going through the same thing rather than from textbooks written years ago by people not in the same situation as me and I couldn't relate too. I also learnt a lot through trial and error and each person is individual and so are their families needs so as always do what is best for you.
Firstly I was able to breastfeed both of my boys past the two-year point and I feel that does change how one develops a sleep routine with babies. Unfortunately what I found is breastfed babies do tend to wake a little bit more often during the first few months but preparation is a lot less so no sterilising or warming bottles in the middle of the night, saying that you can and should express some milk so if you do have a partner they can take over one of the nights to give you a break as the first few months really are about survival when it comes to avoiding sleep deprivation and the same goes for formula-fed - get your partner involved and share the responsibilities.
I've always been busy and try to make the most of each day so this is something I struggled with initially but it's so important to keep at least the half an hour before bedtime nice and calm in preparation for sleep. This is the time to dim the lights, switch off screens which are known to stimulate babies and young children and allow for some quality time such as a nice warm bath or reading a story. Babies and young children will struggle to go from a loud, active environment to sleep so this step is key in your routine.
Try to keep to the same time
This one can be harder than it sounds, especially if you have other children, but if you can there are real benefits to keeping to the same time each night. I'm a realist and on occasions, we get home late from a day out or plans change so don't guilt your self if you have the odd late night but if you can strive for roughly the same time each night children respond well to that as it helps to regulate their body clock and helps to avoid those overtired meltdowns.
Make the bedroom sleep-friendly
As we move closer to summer and those early morning sunrises, blackout curtains will be your best friend and I 100% recommend investing in some. You also want to make a child's bedroom or baby nursery and calming place so avoid any electronics such as a TV or tablet, instead have a pretty mobile over the bed for babies or a soft night light of your toddler is a bit nervous of the dark. You could also use a night light combined with soothing sounds. I used something similar to this Skip hop sleep trainer so if your struggling to create that relaxing space this could be worth a try.
The main takeaways are keeping as close to the same time each night, making sure the half-hour before bedtime is quiet and relaxed and make your child's bedroom as calm as possible, making sure it's free from loud noises and bright lights. There plenty more tips over on Emmas Diary for Baby sleep advice , a really useful resource for parents.
There will be days and nights that just won't go right and may end up with both of you in tears, so especially in those early days take any support that's offered, sleep when you can and don't be too hard on yourself. Parenting is all about trial and error and some things will work while other's won't but you will get there in the end if you're consistent.