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Bedtime battles can be reduced if you introduce a routine to ease your child to sleep. Children like predictability and feeling in control of what is happening next. You may think your baby is too young to understand what you are saying, but good communication is the key for raising a happy and healthy child. Explain to your baby what you are doing and what is coming next.
If you introduce a pleasant routine 5-10 minutes before you put your child in bed you can help her switch into quiet mode and be ready for sleep.
A bedtime routine can include a number of activities. Usually it involves hygiene tasks (bath, brushing teeth), as well as enjoyable quiet activities (playing peekaboo, read a story and cuddles). It is important that the activities you choose are performed in the same order each night so your child comes to know what comes next and is prepared for when sleep time arrives.
An example could be:
When choosing activities, think about what your child likes and what you enjoy as well. If your child likes being read stories, but you don’t, you might feel tempted to skip this. If your child dislikes having a bath, don’t include this task to the bedtime routine (bath your child earlier in the day to avoid crying and fuss at bedtime).
At the end of the routine you should place your child awake in the cot and say goodnight. Newborns can feel a lot of discomfort caused by gas when laying down. Make sure to burp your child as much as possible before placing her in the cot. If you think your child is still uncomfortable you can pick her up and burp her more, but make sure she is awake when you put her down.
Let your child know that play time will be over soon and announce that you are going to start the bedtime routine. Your child won’t have a full understanding of time, but she will pick up the idea, which will assist make your job easier later when she gets older. You can start the routine 5-10 minutes before the desired bed time (somewhere around 6pm and 8pm is ideal).
Research has shown that children who follow a routine and develop healthy sleep habits are more able to improve general behaviours, cognitive development, control of emotions and relationships.