Friday, December 4, 2009
The Importance of Bedtime Routines
It is inevitable. Sometimes bedtime will be bumpy... or even akin to all out war when a toddler is involved. My son was wonderful both at naptime and bedtime until recently. Now he occasionally trys to challenge his bedtime. But, with a few solid bedtime rules, the structure pays off and it never lasts very long.
I have to give credit where it is due and say my MIL was the one who helped us get a handle on bedtime.
First she taught us to respect our babies needs. When Owen was really young he would hit that crazy/fussy period about 9pm every night. We dreaded that time of night and each took turns till the wee hours of the morning bouncing and rocking our crying little guy. We were exhausted and grumpy. Once we realized he was overly tired by 9pm and started his bedtime routine at 8pm we stopped the late night marathons. Now as a toddler, his cues are different. He winds up and bounces off the walls. When we start to notice this behavior, we get him to bed as quickly as we can.
That brings me to my next tip: The all important bedtime routine. I know, we are all busy and who has time for a "routine"? Well, it saves time in the long run. This routine gives the child a cue of what is to come. Children love structure and being comfortable with that structure. Everybody has a different way of setting up a routine. Just try some things and see what you can stick with. Some people use baths, music, stories, quiet games etc. For our two year old we start by getting on an overnight cloth diaper on and p.j.s. , then my son finishes out his medical formula for the evening (to regulate his PKU) and we supplement with enough of his required phes., we brush teeth, then a kiss to the rest of the family, a book or two, turn on the Turtle nightlight and then off to bed. There are sometime requests made or pleading to get back out and play but we hold firm, reassure him and within a few minutes he is off to sleep.
Holding firm is probably one of the most difficult but important tips I could offer. Once you give-in, they will keep pushing the next time. We call this our non-negotiable.
My Fourth tip would be to offer some comfort items for your child. We have a bunch! We have a CloudB twilight turtle that our son turns on before going to bed, a white noise machine and his lovey to go to bed with him. His lovey is a relatively new item that he won't go to bed without. I chose a Gund Puppy Blanket before he was born and kept it with him from the start. It is a cross between a blanket and a stuffed animal. I am so tickled that he loves it.
My last tip has to do with staying in bed... My DH and I try to be compassionate, but firm about sleeping in the crib. If he wakes up at night we often go in and pick him up for a bit, then we put him back. I make an exception if he is sick, or had a bad dream. Then he comes in to snuggle with us. And honestly, I don't mind a little snuggling!
Good luck with your own bedtimes and sweet dreams!
Thanks to Twitter Moms and www.DramaU.net for the post idea and hosting this giveaway! The first 100 bloggers to enter win a pink Cozy to giveaway on their blog. Wish me luck!