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Our Favourite Ways to Reduce Stress at Baby's Bedtime

Wouldn't it just be a dream, if every baby got the memo at bedtime to drift off for a long sleep without any fuss and pandemonium. Unfortunately, the reality is often quite different and it does tend to be the time of day that parents fear the most


We asked Early Years Parenting expert Vanessa Christie for her Top Tips for reducing stress, for you and for your baby, at the evening routine:

1. Know what is normal

Young babies are often firing on all cylinders in the evenings. Their rapidly developing brains are processing all their new experiences and, in the first few months, they may also feed incessantly before they settle (known as cluster feeding). If this is happening and your baby isn't quickly settling to sleep after you've done your bedtime routine, it is far less stressful to accept this as the current status quo, rather than fighting against it. Enjoy the extra snuggles, know that you are giving your baby what she needs and remember the mantra "this too shall pass".

2. Get napping in the day

Aiming to have a well-rested baby during the day will positively impact on how they settle in the evenings. Being over-tired will only serve to jazz them up more come bedtime. If your little baby is resistant to lying down in their bed for naps, carry them in a sling, put them in a buggy, get driving in the car....anything that works!

3. Be flexible on time but do things in the same order

Give clear signals to your baby that bedtime is coming by introducing a predictable routine such as: bath/wash, massage, dress for bed, song/book, feed. However, try not to get too hung up on the time, particularly in the early months. Your baby might be ready at 6pm one evening and 8.30pm the next and this is completely normal (see point 1!). The only important thing on time is not to drag it out - try and stick to the whole process taking no more than 45-60 minutes, as your baby may become over-tired and harder to settle as a result.

4. Be prepared

Every morning take a mental stock check of nappies, creams, wipes or anything else you use, to ensure that you aren't going to find yourself short at bedtime. Then before you wash your baby, have everything laid out ready, so that there is no hanging around with a squealing baby whilst you are gathering it all together.

5. Give your baby a massage

Knowing how to massage your baby is an awesome tool to have in your parenting kit. Not only can it help to zone them out for a peaceful sleep, it is a beautiful way of connecting and forming a deeper bond with your baby and thus helps you to feel calmer at the same time.

6. Managing two together

Having one or more older children puts a whole new spin on proceedings but it IS possible and you WILL get there. There are many different ways parents handle it. One routine is to have them in the bath at the same time and then get your youngest out and dried first (as long as you have a warm surface in the bathroom, you could still massage them there if you wanted to). Then pop your baby in a sling or a bouncy chair and tend to your older child/ren. You could feed your baby whilst reading stories, or if your baby is happy and awake then keep them in the sling or bouncy chair whilst you settle your older child/ren. You then (hopefully!) have your hands free to tend to your baby as needed.

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