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Tips, Tricks & Tips for lights out time

Ask any parent for whom toddler bedtime is a breeze and they’ll tell you the same thing: A bedtime routine is essential for getting your little one to wind down. Kids love routine – it’s reassuring and reinforcing for them to know what comes next. You might notice that just starting your bedtime ritual will cause even your very active children’s eyelids to droop.

Here is a typical bedtime routine that helps children – from babies to big kids – settle down for the night:

  • Toileting
  • Warm bath or washing up
  • Brushing teeth
  • Picking out pyjamas
  • Choosing a book for reading aloud
  • Lights out
  • Favourite bedtime song or lullaby (or try Lights Out Kids | The Bedtime Story Podcast!)
  • Goodnight kiss

But what if your child gets out of bed after the bedtime routine is over? How do you get them back where they belong without tears or threats?

This is where a little dash of behavioural know-how comes in handy. “Negative feedback” such as scolding or punishment could spike a child’s adrenalin – having the opposite effect to that you intended. Feedback that the child will interpret as “positive,” such as relenting and letting her have “just a few more minutes” will cause the problem to recur indefinitely.

The key here is neutral feedback and consistency. Quickly, gently and firmly take the child’s hand and escort her back to bed, with minimal conversation or interaction: “Susie, bedtime is bedtime. Let’s go. I will see you in the morning.” You might need to do this several times in one evening, but eventually your toddler will get bored with the game. As with most areas where discipline is necessary, in the absence of a reward the behavior will eventually fizzle out.

What about children who have trouble falling asleep?

The solution to this problem may be simpler than you think. Some kids are very sensitive to caffeine from cola or chocolate, and/or blue light from phones, tablets or TV. Some need to avoid evening excitement, such as meeting new people or jumping on the bed. Try removing those triggers for a week or so and see if that resolves the problem.

The Sleep Foundation recommendation for children aged three to five is 13-15 hours of sleep per night, but some kids, just like some adults, are simply unable to go right to sleep. Your high-energy child may need to spend up to an hour in bed before drifting off. These children may respond well when you give them permission to use a bedside lamp light and flip through the pages of picture books. Just as long as their feet don’t touch the floor!

Read more tips about sleep here

In our recent post about sleep safety, we discussed the importance of removing all blankets and loose bedclothes from the crib to eliminate the risk of suffocation. Swaddling or wrapping, is the method of choice for very young babies, as they are often calmed by the feeling of being securely bundled. When your baby weighs at least 9 pounds you may decide to keep her warm, safe and comfortable in a baby sleeping bag, sometimes also called a “blanket sleeper.” These are one-piece sleepsuits that allow baby to move freely whilst staying cozy.

When baby is in a pram on a cold day and you are keeping an eye on her, a mummy-type sleeping bag may be a good option to keep her arms covered. In bed, however, the British Standard recommends sleeveless baby bags worn over a onesie with long or short sleeves. There are several types from which to choose. We suggest that you select a bag from a reputable brand like GroBag, an award-winning line of sleep bags that adheres to up-to-date safety recommendations.

Important notes for Blanket Sleeping Bags:

  • Do not use a bag with a hood, ribbons or ties.
  • Check that zippers, poppers or snap fasteners are working properly.
  • Make sure the bag fits correctly. Weigh and measure your child, and follow the manufacturer’s sizing instructions. Armholes need to be snug but not constricting. If the baby’s head can pass through the neck hole when the bag is fastened, it’s too big.
  • Overheating is as uncomfortable for babies as it is for adults, and it can be unsafe. Use the correct “tog” for the room’s nighttime temperature. Tog is a European warmth rating: the higher the tog, the warmer the product. Most baby clothing runs from 0.5 tog (hot weather) to 3.5 tog (16°C / 61°F and below). There’s a detailed tog guide for baby sleep bags at https://www.gro-store.com/guides/grobag

For more information on swaddling and sleeping bags, here’s a great little video from Netmums: https://www.netmums.com/reviews/how-to-guides/swaddling-and-baby-sleeping-bags

As you well know, babies need lots of supervision, which means that we find ourselves trying to fit all of our own activities into their (sometimes unpredictable) nap and sleep schedules. This is why it’s reassuring to know that you have created a safe space for baby in her crib (see our article on safety), where she can sleep, nap or just “hang out” whilst you nap, cook, shower or clean.

Of course, we don’t want to abuse our freedom. Your little one has many social and physical needs, and if she associates crib time with being unhappy, wet, hungry, bored or lonely, her safe space is going to lose its magic for you both. Baby monitors will help you make the distinction between happy noises, mild fussing or real discomfort that requires attention.

Twenty years ago, a high-tech baby monitor consisted of a base station in the nursery and one or two receivers in other locations – delivering a simple one-way audio broadcast. This system may seem pretty basic, but these intercom monitors are still popular, may cost under £20 and do a fine job of keeping you in tune with baby’s needs and activities.

However, if you are looking for more bells and whistles you have a lot from which to choose. Two-way monitors allow you to speak to your child; video monitors allow you to keep an eye on them. There are monitors thar pair up with your smartphone or tablet, as well as monitors with infrared night cameras, temperature sensors, music players, timers, light shows and other gimmicks that you may (or may not) decide are worth the expense.

Movement Sensor Baby Monitors:

Some companies are quick to pitch monitors with movement sensor pads. These typically fit under the mattress and set off an alarm if no movement is detected for at least twenty seconds.

Pros:

  • If you are an extremely anxious parent this may give you some peace of mind.

Cons:

  • These monitors can be expensive: A “baby sock movement sensor” can run you up to £300!
  • You are going to get some false alarms, which will be distressing for you (from personal experience!) and jarring for your baby.
  • Although some manufacturers tout motion monitors as an important precaution, there is no evidence that these monitors prevent or reduce the prevalence of cot death in a healthy child. Taking the steps we discussed in our post about safety is your best bet for reducing risk.

However, if you have a preemie or a baby with a known medical condition, you might want to discuss a movement monitor with your paediatrician. In special cases, they might be provided at no charge by your health service.

Choosing a baby monitor:

More expensive does not necessarily mean better. Be sure to read parent reviews of different models before shopping. Keep these questions in mind:

  • How is the sound and/or video quality?
  • What’s the range?
  • How’s the battery life?
  • Are all of the included features really useful?

Regardless of which model you choose, you’ll quickly find that your baby monitor can be your new best friend – allowing you to focus on other tasks knowing that your little one is happy and safe 💗

Nothing is as scary to a new parent as the fear that their little one may stop breathing, or suffer from hidden dangers during the night. Sleep safety for your baby is certainly an important topic. However, you will be reassured to know that the incidence of cot death has been greatly reduced since new recommendations were put into place in the early 1990’s.

Here are the most important steps you can take to keep baby safe in bed:

  1. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs. That single precaution has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  2. According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, sharing a bed is the number one cause of suffocation in babies. If you are cuddling or nursing baby in bed, be sure to stay alert and move her to a bassinet long before you drift off.
  3. Suffocation can also be caused by a soft mattress, blankets, or other items. Choose a firm mattress that fits snugly, and doesn’t indent when the baby is lying on it. Don’t place bumper pads, soft bedding, or soft toys (blankets, fluffy duvets, pillows, soft toys) in your baby’s bed. To keep her warm in a cool room, dress her in a fleece blanket sleeper, sleep bag or onesie. Remove any clothing that covers her face or head and don’t bundle her up too much, as overheating may place her at risk. As a general rule, your baby should be dressed with only one layer more than you are wearing yourself.
  4. Choose a crib that meets modern sleep safety standards. The distance between slats must be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) to prevent infants and toddlers from getting their heads trapped between the slats. Cribs with movable side rails are no longer considered safe. If you buy second-hand, check with the manufacturer that the crib is up to standard and has not had a safety recall.
  5. To prevent choking, do not put baby to bed with a bib or necklace. Do not place her cot near a window with blinds, drapes, or any kind of string or chain.
  6. Keep your home free of smoke, and baby’s room free of pets or scented products that could trigger an allergy.
  7. Beware of expensive products being touted for preventing SIDS. There are indications that sleeping with a pacifier (dummy) may be of some benefit (many infants do well with soft, one-piece pacifiers at bedtime, such as the classic Philips Avent for ages 0-3 months and the ergonomic pacifier by Chicco for older babies), but there’s no evidence that home cardio respiratory monitors reduce the risk of SIDS in healthy babies.

Sleep Safety Summary

As with all parenting challenges, one must take appropriate precautions without excessive worry. In following these recommendations, you’ll have the reassurance of knowing that you have taken appropriate measures to keep your little one safe and happy at bedtime.

And of course don’t forget to subscribe to our Bedtime Story Podcast here to create the perfect sleeping environment for your little one

 

There are a number of reasons why your baby can be difficult to put to bed, and some of them depend on age. In this article, let’s talk about the youngest babies – under one year old.

First of all, it’s not surprising that your little one doesn’t want to be left alone. Think about it – a newborn baby has been programmed with one primary fear, and that is of being lost. “If mum or dad put me down and are not back within a few minutes, I have to scream so they know where I am!”

Anthropologists who study primitive cultures tell us that it is common that a child’s feet “don’t touch the ground” for the first year of life. They are carried on the parents’ backs and snuggled in the parents’ beds until they initiate their own bid for independence. Jean Liedloff, author of the acclaimed book “The Continuum Concept,” asserts that the child’s earliest sense of self-worth and security comes from the fast knowledge that they are safe and cared-for.

Obviously, in today’s modern culture the post-infancy “family bed” may not be practical or even appropriate. Therefore, developmental specialists have studied ways of giving infants that same sense of security at bedtime. In October, 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced findings that babies do best when sleeping in the same room with their parents – for example, in a bassinet beside the bed – for their first year. (This was later amended to six months, after which time they have been found to sleep better in their own cribs.) In addition to added emotional security for both baby and parents, room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

Baby & Sleep – important dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t put the baby down and let them “scream it out.” Their fear of abandonment is very real, and this method is simply unnecessary when there are proven alternatives that will leave you both feeling reassured.
  • Do teach the baby that you will be returning. This must be demonstrated several times, likely over several days. Dr. Richard Ferber, author of the bestselling book, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems,” has developed an interval schedule that will have most babies sleeping peacefully within one week. (You can read more about the Ferber Method here.) Elizabeth Pantley, in “The No-Cry Sleep Solution,” advocates for a more in-depth approach that incorporates baby’s biological sleep rhythms as well as other factors.
  • Don’t put your little one to bed when they are already asleep. Disorientation can cause them to panic. Imagine nodding off on your sofa and waking up in the forest – you’d be scared too!
  • Do leave your baby with a familiar sentence each time you exit the room. Choose soothing words like, “Shh, don’t worry, I will allll-ways come back.”

If these methods don’t work with your little one, it is possible that there are other factors at play. For example, a milk intolerance or ear infection can cause pain and night waking. Speak with your pediatrician if your baby’s sleep patterns change suddenly, or if you have any concerns about their health.

More resources to help your baby sleep:

In case you missed them, here are the books we mentioned: