Tips & Tricks: Wind Down Ritual

I started The Sleep Teacher because I know how debilitating sleep deprivation is, but I also know how easily it can be fixed. I know the tips and tricks to ensure that bedtime doesn’t have to be something you dread, rather something that is a calm and natural process. One of my top tips to make this possible is the implementation of a wind down ritual.

What is a wind down ritual?

Well, think back to a time when you’ve arrived home late at night and tried to go straight to sleep. Most of the time you can’t. That’s because you need time to unwind your active brain and our babies are no different. If you’ve been trying put your baby to sleep after they’ve been playing in an environment with loud noise and harsh lights, then you’re definitely going to run into some trouble. This is where a wind down ritual comes in. A wind down ritual is a consistent routine that signals to your little ones that sleep is coming through providing calming and settling queues. It not only helps to calm your baby and make them drowsy and ready for sleep, but it’s a great opportunity to forget about the stresses of the day and take some time for physical touch and togetherness with your baby. Wind down rituals are going to look different for every family and for every child depending on their preferences and their age etc. However, there are a few core elements that you can begin with.

The basics:

  • a swaddle, sleeping bag, sleepsuit, or pyjamas
  • a dark or dim room
  • peace and quiet or white noise
  • cuddles or a massage
Start to implement this routine each night and your little one will begin to associate each element with sleep. As time goes by you can add in other elements to make it more special for you and your baby.

The Extras:

  • a warm bath
  • applying lotion, powder or cream,
  • lighting a candle
  • singing a lullaby
  • reading a book
  • snuggling or rocking
Again, this is going to look different for each child and you don’t need to have all of these things as apart of your wind down routine. For example, the wind down ritual of a newborn may include a massage and a swaddle in a warm room with white noise, whereas the wind down ritual for a toddler may look like a sleep suit, in a dim room with a book. Just do what feels right and what works for you and your child. For many mothers, the wind down ritual is one of the sweetest parts of motherhood. And I know, being a mother myself, that as much as we try to cherish the special moments with our babes, we’re usually feeling so tired, stressed and overwhelmed that we end up wishing these moments away and regret doing that when their gone. This is especially common in the newborn phase because it just goes by so fast! That’s why I recommend implementing a wind down ritual. Because it’s not only a great way to make the sleep process so much easier but also more enjoyable. Look at it as a time to let go of the day and have some one-on-one quiet bonding time with your baby. However, please remember, you can't just implement a wind down routine and expect your little one to sleep like an angel! A wind-down routine is less likely to work if you're ignoring sleep cues and awake windows. I've done a long post on that, which you can check out here. Essentially, there are guidelines of how long your baby should be awake for depending on their age and you need to be aware of the sign they show you to indicate that they are tired. Consistency is key - pay attention to these signs and try to stick to a spell schedule as much as you can. It's important to try and not to put your baby to bed too early (when they aren't to tired), or too late (when they're overtired), then your wind down ritual will be much more effective. I know this all sounds overwhelming which is why I highly recommend pairing your wind down ritual with one of my sleep programs. Because, if you've been reading this blog long enough, you'll know that good sleep doesn't happen overnight. I offer four sleep programs from newborn up to the age of 4 so there is really something for you wherever your child is at in life and I'll be there with you every step of the way on your journey to better sleep.
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