Saturday, June 28, 2014

To bathe or not to bathe at bedtime, that is the question.

Do you give your little one a bath before bedtime? Or read her a book? Serenade her with songs and kisses?
There was a small study done that showed that the children who got a bath thirty minutes before bedtime had an easier time going to bed. 

But why?

Was it the consistency of a regular routine? Did a bath relax them and thus encourage the production of the calming hormone, melatonin?

 What happens if the bath is very fun and exciting and ends up stimulating your child? If she is already tired and ready to sleep, would the bath just wake her up and give her a second wind? (Cortisol  rush—NOT what you want at bedtime!)
So, let’s approach bedtime in a totally different way (I say this a lot). Think of the “Bedtime Routine” as having two pieces. 

First, we have the wind-down activities. These are all the things you have to do to prepare your child for bed, such as supper, meals, baths (only if you like it and it is calming for your child), fresh diaper, maybe even a massage while she are undressed for the diaper, pyjamas and so on.  For the wind-down, it is best to do the activities always in the same order, but how long you spend on each activity can vary. This will give your activities consistency and a good flow. The routine will become familiar. If you like to do the bath every other night or less frequently, place it in the same slot in the order of activities.

Second, you have your routine of signals to sleep: three to five things that you do in the same order for the same amount of time in the same way. For example, you could do a story, a song, a prayer and a kiss.  When done consistently, these things will signal to your child that they are about to be put in bed.

So here’s the secret…

Between the wind-down and the signal routines, watch for sleep cues. If you see sleep cues while doing your wind-down, end it, skip the last steps if necessary, and do your signal routine.  Catching the sleep window helps everyone get to sleep more easily. If you can slide smoothly through the routines and catch the sleep window, you will be in a better place to get sleep success.

For more sleep secrets, call me for a gentle sleep consultation.  I create gentle sleep plans that don’t involve “crying it out”.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Call for a free 15 minute sleep assessment.
Specializing in alert, bright eyed, observant, curious, spirited babies and children.

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