Don't skip this critical piece of the sleep puzzle
The days are long, but the years are short…
No doubt you’ve heard that expression. I think it’s one of the truest parenting mantras I’ve ever heard.
Let’s be honest, some days are long, really looooooong. And completely draining. Especially when you’re in the early parenting“trenches”.
But the years pass by so fast and I can recall vividly how bone tired I would be the end of a day raising babies and toddlers.
Sometimes (okay, maybe often) at bedtime, I would be so exhausted I would just want to dump and run. My whole body was spent, and I would find it hard to muster energy for the night-time ritual.
Do you ever feel like that?
But here’s the thing. I found that if I rushed the pre-sleep ritual, this would have a ripple effect on bub’s sleep. It would almost take my little one longer to fall asleep (and stay asleep).
This was a total gamechanger for me.
I learnt that no matter how tired I was (and believe me, I know tired) if I spent the time being emotionally available, and sticking with the night-time wind down routing, bub would safely drift off into a nice deep, sleep. And then, in turn, I could go and flop on the couch, feeling confident that they were down for the count.
It’s a critical step in establishing a good sleep hygiene plus it serves to strengthen your bond with baby. And this is important with older children, too.
Children need to feel safe to fall asleep.
Makes sense, right? As adults if we feel unsafe or agitated, it’s impossible to drift off.
If you're struggling with settling or frequent night wake ups, being more emotionally available in your pre sleep ritual can be a game changer, and this is backed up by science, not just my anecdotal experience.
One study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found that infants whose mothers were more emotionally available during bedtime showed fewer disruptions when settling to sleep and less sleep disruption overall compared with infants whose mums were less emotionally available.
So, what does this emotional availability look like:
- Quiet, gentle conversations before bedtime
- Cuddles and touch
- Dim light in the room
- Soft, soothing sounds (songs or chat)
- Being sensitive to your child
- Setting limits without hostility or threats
- Reassuring phrases such as "shhh its sleepy time"
- No phones or devices distracting you
This emotional availability can be challenging in busy households with multiple children and babies, but could literally be the difference between a crying, drawn out sleep battle, and a nice easy bedtime or nap time.
This is why I consistently emphasise the importance of pre sleep rituals as part of the sleep hygiene puzzle.
If you'd like help with your baby's sleep or any tips around this just click HERE and I will be in touch.
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