The Biggest Bedtime Routine Mistake You Can Make
This week I want to talk about the bedtime routine, and the number one mistake parents make when they are creating a bedtime routine.
I believe a bedtime routine is a crucial first step in creating predictability for your little tike and teaching him that it’s time to make that transition from day into night.
Even adults have routines. We all do things in the same order before bed every night. Without them, we would feel a little anxious or out of sorts, and it would be harder to sleep. So it is definitely important; however, there is one mistake that parents make.
Somewhere in the routine, the baby sleeps!
For example, you’ve heard the baby should have a bath, so you’re going to do a bath, you’re going to get jammies on, you’re going to read a book maybe, and then you’re going to do a feeding….but there, right there, that’s the snag.
You feed your little tike to sleep, either on the breast or with the bottle.
Most people turn off the lights when it's time to feed. They get the environment nice and cozy and comfy. This is sending a cue to your child that it’s time to start the journey into sleep. This is where you need to make your changes.
If you nurse or bottle feed your little tike to sleep and then transfer him to the crib, you’re not going to have a baby that sleeps through the night. You’re probably going to find that half an hour later, 45 minutes later he is awake again, and you’ve got to start the process all over.
Bath…great; PJs…great and feeding is fine. It’s totally acceptable to feed a baby before bed. In fact, I encourage it, but…
Keep the lights on high enough that you can watch, and don’t ever let sleep start.
If you think of sleep as a journey, you don’t want him to start the journey until it’s time. Starting a journey looks like heavy blinking, closing the eyes, opening them, anything like that is the beginning of the journey, so don’t allow him to start!
Keep his eyes open so that he begins to understand that…
Food is a nice lovely step in the bedtime routine, but it is not for the purpose of sleep.
If your little tike has a really strong association between eating and sleeping, my suggestion would be for you to break the association up with an extra step after the feed. Feed him, then sit him up on your lap and read a book or sing him a song. This starts to teach him that there is no way or there is no reason to fall asleep while feeding.
Then the baby should go into the crib awake.
This is how you start The Sleep Sense Program, and I can teach you how to do it. Going into the crib awake is the number one way your baby is going to learn the skills he needs in order to become a great sleeper and start sleeping through the night.
Here’s to the start of your little tike’s journey…