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The Three C's of Bedtime

It's so easy to become swept up in trying to get our little ones to sleep, feeling the pressure of all those unfinished jobs and cold dinner on the table it's no surprise bedtime can feel so stressful for parents.


The Three C's of bedtime can really help to reframe the purpose of a nighttime routine and give you some insight into infant behaviours.



Calm

My number one tip for parents feeling this is to stop aiming for sleep and start aiming for calm....

"Stop aiming for sleep and start aiming for calm"

We cannot make someone sleep. What we can do is facilitate them becoming nice and relaxed so that their bodies can do the rest! This is also why any technique you apply should have this as its primary goal. This is why I never use any cry-based approaches as this goes against the philosophy I hold about calming.


Sleep occurs when we are more relaxed. So how do we get there?


Language or activities for older children at bedtime:

  • A special handshake,

  • Sharing your favourite moment of the day,

  • Asking them what they would like to dream about,

  • Doing a body scan,

  • Pretending to call your child on the way out the room "ring ring.., oh hello, I love you!"

Language or activities for babies at bedtime:

  • Singing

  • Rocking

  • Cuddles

  • Stories

  • Talking about objects in the room in a soft voice

  • Feeding

  • The 5 S's: Side/ Stomach, Sway, Shush, Swaddle, Suck = the secret to soothing success!

Each child will have their own unique preference when it comes to calming down, feel free to experiment and change this, as sometimes their needs and comfort levels will be different.


Connection

For children, bedtime signifies a time of separation. This is why it's so important to fill up their love tank to make separation a little easier.


Working on separation anxiety during the daytime through different activities and games can help to make this bedtime separation feel more normal and less daunting.


Activities such as peekaboo, hide and seek or 'oops I forgot' can be wonderful ways to help your child learn object permanence.


Containment


Containing our little person's feelings is also another important part of bedtime. For smaller babies who won't be able to speak, this may look more like co-regulating through some big feelings and tears. Nurturing time we create serves to let children relax and sometimes, as part of this, they like to chat through things. Holding space for them and demonstrating your unconditional love even when it isn't the best time.


In older children, holding space doesn’t mean you have to solve their problems.


This can sound like.... "ugh that is so big, that must have been really hard, thank you for sharing that with me".


Another way to approach bedtime worries is by using a worry monster to write and eat the worry up before bed. Some parents choose to take the worry out before the morning or to write a response back.


Now you are armed with the 3 C's!

These can really help to support a more calm and happy bedtime for you and your little one.


Happy sleeping,

Imogen X

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