Being a parent is both a privilege and a joy, but at the same time, it is also one of the most challenging things I have done! Without a doubt, one of the hardest aspects of parenting is the sleep deprivation.
We have had two very different experiences of sleep with our two children. In the early months, T was a much better sleeper, but then had an horrendous sleep regression at five months, which never really came to a clear end, but just gradually ebbed away over a number of months. I took the advice to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ very literally, and this was how I coped. I couldn’t tell you when she started sleeping through consistently – I’m sure she was over a year, perhaps 18 months.
A, on the other hand, barely slept in his Moses basket, preferring instead to have a human mattress. In part because of his reflux, we ended up co-sleeping for the first 8 months of his life, which I found exhausting and was absolutely not my preference. Thankfully at 8 months, a health visitor advised me that he really had no need for milk in the night (which I already suspected; he would wake briefly to comfort feed and then sleep again) and that we should try a method of sleep training. Amazingly, within two days of that conversation he was sleeping through the night, and now has been sleeping 7pm-6am for a whole month! I am not counting my chickens just because of T’s aforementioned sleep regression, but I live in hope!
So, two very different experiences – but they do have one thing in common: a bedtime routine. When T was very young, we began a bedtime routine which consisted initially of a bath and some baby massage before putting her to bed. As she grew older, we introduced a book into this routine, and so ‘bath, book, bed’ has been our routine since early 2014. When A was born last year, we made necessary adjustments but essentially have the same routine – bath time starts a little earlier, and he’s usually feeding for at least some of story time – but other than that, it remains pretty unchanged.
Having a routine is so important for children as it gives them a feeling of safety and security. A bedtime routine gives them a sense of control and helps them to relax and prepare to sleep.
Reading together is my favourite part of our bedtime routine. It gives us time to all snuggle up and relax together (which is definitely needed after a fun, splashy bath!), and is also great for building imagination, vocabulary and creativity. I love hearing T use words and phrases which she has plucked straight out from one of her favourite stories.
Bath, Book, Bed
BookTrust’s ‘Bath, Book, Bed’ campaign is back for it’s third year. Since launching in 2016, they have reached over 10 million parents and carers of 0-4 year olds.
In the knowledge that sleep deprivation is such a challenging part of parenting, they have teamed up with Jo Frost (a.k.a Supernanny) to promote a simple three step routine to help children get ready to sleep.
You can get some top tips from Jo Frost in their booklet, Bath, Book, Bed: Simple steps to a better night’s sleep, also featuring Daddy Pig. The booklet is downloadable from their website and has some really useful advice for each aspect of the bedtime routine, and also answers some top questions that parent’s may have.
The BookTrust website has advice for parents about how best to introduce the routine and how to maintain it. Visit www.booktrust.org.uk/bathbookbed to find out more, and share your tips and ideas using @BookTrust and #BathBookBed.
We tend to read three stories each bedtime in our house, so we go through a lot of books! To keep things fresh and give us a bit of variety, we make regular trips to the library to give us some new reading material.
Here are some of our favourite stories – click to see the full review.
Imagine, by Alison Lester – a lovely story if you’re interested in different habitats around the world.
Tidy, by Emily Gravett – a really funny book but also a great starting point for finding out about deforestation and the environment.
There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub, by Catalina Echeverri – a really enchanting and whimsical story about Amelia and a friendly dinosaur named Pierre.
Bears in the Night, by Stan & Jan Berenstain – a fun book with lots of repetition – great for encouraging the children to join in!
Peck, Peck, Peck, by Lucy Cousins – lovely, comical rhyming story about a young woodpecker.
A Library Book for Bear, by Bonny Becker – I love these ‘Bear and Mouse’ stories! The characters are just brilliant. A really enjoyable read.
Fox in the Dark, by Alison Green – a rhyming story with a lovely gentle rhythm, and some brilliant characters.
These are all books which all of us have enjoyed reading together, and I’m a firm believer that we do a better job of reading stories when we enjoy reading them! I would highly recommend all of the above, but if those don’t appeal to you, you can find even more using BookTrust’s bookfinder.