Have expectations that are science-based
When it comes to the bedtime, many parents are confused as to who is in charge of what. As a parent, you create the bedtime routine. You decide where the bed is going to be located and where the parents will sleep. Children look up to their parents for guidance and answers to these questions. At the same time, your baby is in charge of falling asleep.
Many sleep problems in the families with babies and toddlers occur when parents decide that they can force their children to go to sleep. From your own experience you know that if you don’t want to sleep, you will not fall asleep. This is true for your baby, too. Is she doesn’t want to sleep, she will not fall asleep. Do not try to force her. If you do, you will not succeed. All you will end up with is confusion and struggle.
When you are clear about your role and the role of your baby in the process of going to sleep, you will be able to create a peaceful harmonious ritual out of it and everyone will enjoy both the preparations and the sleep itself.
Give your baby the right snacks
Certain foods, such as warm milk, whole-wheat crackers and a few slices of fruit can be helpful in promoting sleep. Other foods, such as drinks with caffeine and chocolate, can have the opposite effect because they will give your baby a sugar rush. Obviously, these are the foods that you want to avoid. Create a list of healthy snacks. Keep some raisins and crackers in your pantry. This way you will be able to quickly get some foods to assist you in putting your baby to sleep.
Many babies and toddlers love cuddling and rocking. Cuddling can be especially helpful if you need to calm your baby down. Snuggling with your baby or toddler will help her fall asleep. Using a sling is an easy way to get close and moving and to have a free hand at the same time.
Introduce bath time to the routine
Taking a bath helps both adults and babies to relax muscles, relieve stress and calm down after a long day. To make sure that giving a bath to your baby does indeed accomplish these goals, prepare everything in advance. You do not want to be running around agitated trying to find all the toys that your baby will need during bath time. Also, avoid bubble baths and oils. They are one of the most popular sources of skin inflammation for babies and toddlers.
Bathing together with your baby can help both of you calm down and bond with each other. However, your wet baby will most likely be very slippery. For this reason, ask your spouse to help you when getting into the tub with your baby and when getting out of it.
Go for a walk
Similarly to taking a bath, going for a walk in a park or some other quiet place can be very relaxing. You can also choose to take a bike ride if you have a toddler or drive to a place that’s very relaxing. Remember to turn off your devices, calm down and stroll leisurely. If you start answering your emails or calls, you may accomplish the opposite effect. This is a chance for you and your children to wind down, not wind up.
Use comfortable bed sheets
If you are putting your baby to sleep on a cold night, put some warm towels over the bedsheet. You can warm them up by tossing them into the dryer for a few minutes. You can also wrap your child’s favorite toy in a pillow case and put it in the dryer for a few minutes as well.
Read a story
Storytelling is one of the most powerful joys of life for kids and adults. Fundamentally, movies and TV shows that people of all ages enjoy are nothing else but great stories with interesting plots. Find several bedtime books that both you and your baby enjoy. Reading stories will allow you to have a great time, promote language and reading, and put your baby to sleep faster.
Unplug the devices
When you are putting your baby to sleep, make sure that there are no working electronic devices such as computers or smartphones around. Not only do such devices have bright screens that can have a negative impact on sleep cycles, but they also can serve as a distraction to both you and your baby. At the same time, predictable background noises can mask unwanted sounds and help you put your baby to sleep. You can buy special CDs and DVDs with ocean wave sounds, forest rain, and other similar noises. Even soft background music can do the trick.
Avoid sensitive topics with your spouse
Some topics, such as discussing an upcoming credit card bill or a missed birthday of a relative, will almost always get you into an agitated state. Avoid discussing them before you put your baby to sleep. If you choose to discuss them after your baby is asleep, make sure that you are far enough from the nursery so that you don’t wake up your baby. Babies and toddlers have amazing emotional radars and can pick up emotions from adults very quickly and from a distance. If you child overhears you arguing with your spouse, she may start crying or worrying and not be able to fall asleep for quite some time.
Adjust the temperature in the room
A healthy baby will most likely feel happy at the same temperature that makes you comfortable and happy. However, don’t forget that temperature may change during the day or night and a room that is warm at 8 pm may get cold a few hours later. If you find yourself reaching for an extra blanket, your baby could benefit from some extra heat, too, so be sure to visit your child’s room and adjust the thermostat.