Did you know that parents with new babies tend to get just under 5 hours of slumber per night? Yup. So it’s no surprise that the next day can be a little, well, tantrum-filled.
To help parents and little ones across Britain nail bedtime, catch more zzz’s and wake up feeling fresh as a daisy (yes, really), we held a panel at The Sleep Suite to pick the brains of sleep experts. Read on for the full scoop.
don’t pressure yourself
Believe it or not, great sleep starts with being kind to yourself and understanding that a good night’s slumber looks different for everyone. According to sleep expert Christine Hansen, comparing yourself to other parents is a big no-no.
“I find there are two mum camps – either you sleep or you don’t,” she told our panel. “Often you think you’re overdoing it when sleeping with the baby, or you think you’re horrible because you aren’t doing it. It’s important to understand that it’s your choice, and it’s totally okay to change your opinion on things. You never know what a child is going to be like – they are individuals from the get-go.”
nail a bedtime routine
If your mini me’s sleep affects yours, then it’s worth taking a look at their bedtime routine, says Christine:
A routine is absolutely crucial. If you have a child who has issues sleeping, it’s the very first point at which you should start. It’s a soft form of sleep training and helps make babies and children feel safe, because they know what’s going to come next. If there’s one thing babies and children like, it’s predictability.
So if you’re not a fan of your current routine, no worries. You can always reset it and try something new. Not sure where to start? Try our nifty routine calculator to help you set up a day (and night) that suits you and your little one.
get used to changes
Routines are great, but embracing changes makes it easier by the time they inevitably come: “By the time we had our fourth, who is now 6, we had very regular bedtimes,” explained eve’s co-founder, and father of 4, Kuba Wieczorek. “When she was 3 or 4, I remember her laughing out loud when we told her it was bedtime. She loves sleep, and was so excited. But if something was out of kink with her routine, we paid the price.”“Now she’s at the age where she’s often invited to friends’ houses for sleepovers. She loves it and we hate it, because it ruins the routine. But still, it’s really important for her to forge relationships,” he added.
bring in some bedtime rituals
When your sleepyheads are a bit older, try encouraging them to play a part in their own sleep routine, says Christine:
Something I like to suggest to parents is to actually have a laminated chart, and put a tick or a sticker on it once they’ve gone to bed at the right time. It actually keeps you in check as well as them, and for them it feels exciting because they are boss for the night.
monitor their sleep
According to model, writer and mum-of-two Ruth Crilly, it’s important to know how much sleep your little one is actually getting so that you can work out how to improve things: “When our first was born, we were living in rented, short-term accommodation because our house was being renovated. She wasn’t sleeping, and we had no routine. As soon as we introduced a routine and took note of how much she was sleeping, things improved.”
keep temperatures in check
Little ones don’t always know how to tell you that they’re too hot or too cold. So checking it and making changes is the best way to keep it at a Goldilocks ‘just right’ level: “The best room temperature to sleep in is actually pretty cold, between 18-21 degrees. So often a little cooler than a regular setting,” explains Christine.
switch off the baby monitor
Everyone’s different, but Christine reckons a baby monitor isn’t always a good idea for tired parents: “Turn it off and leave the door open, or put it on the lowest volume – you’ll hear the baby when they’re freaking out as they’ll likely be really loud,” she says.
“Because babies are very noisy sleepers, they’ll disturb you via the monitor, which means you often interrupt them while they’re sleeping to check on them. I often tell my clients to go in very quietly and see if they are awake when they hear noise, before ditching the baby monitor altogether.”