For all the joy children bring, raising little people is not easy! One thing many parents struggle with is creating a healthy bedtime routine for toddlers. Establishing a good sleeping routine early on encourages good sleeping habits for the future, and the benefits don’t stop there. Studies show quality sleep makes little ones more creative, energised, and less irritable! Toddler tantrums are no fun, eh? Wellness influencer Ashley Siedentopf author of “Feed yourself fabulous” knows her stuff when it comes to bedtime. Ashley takes a holistic approach to wellbeing and believes a healthy sleeping routine for little ones plays a big part in living well. We talk to her about sleeping schedules, magic baths, and disco naps!
What do you think are the biggest challenges when it comes to bedtime routines for toddlers
I think not having enough tools at hand. Understanding and learning as much as you can about the importance of a bedtime routine and the methods that work. Before my first was born, two books that taught me about the different stages of sleep and establishing a good bedtime routine were the contented baby by Gina Ford and the 12 hours and 12 weeks famous baby coach method. My own modifications really helped have my child on a structured sleep routine from birth. The bedtime routine has been 7 pm-7 am (pretty much) from then till now.
What does a good bedtime routine include?
Going to bed at the same time every night and minimising stimulation before! Having a lovely ritual to look forward to that helps your baby know the difference between daytime and nighttime. For me, I love and enjoy my evenings, so the 7 pm-7 am routine is a dream. When we are on holiday or away from home this is more flexible and we adjust, naturally. Though some parents may work later hours and enjoy rising later in the morning. There is no right or wrong. It’s about finding a routine that works for you and your baby. That looks slightly different for every family.
How do you set a sleeping schedule?
I tried to do my best to adopt and establish a sleep routine from early on. The earlier you can set a bedtime routine for your little one the better. Those two books as I mentioned really give great insight into knowing when to feed, nap, and find the best bedtime for your baby.
What are the best things to do before bedtime?
- Try my magic bath…add lavender bubbles, essential oils of lavender, and sprinkle on Epsom salts. Then wrap them in a soft, fluffy towel.
- Give them a toddler massage (babies love massages as much as mummy’s)
- Bedtime stories… even if they are newborns, they can still get a lot out of hearing the mummy or father’s voice and it’s great for bonding.
- Play calming lullabies, it makes for sleepy music meditation music and helps them drift off naturally.
What are the best things for toddlers to eat before bed?
Carbs, protein veg, and some warm milk, (mine loves oat milk and lactose-free whole milk), now at 3. I will sometimes add a little raw manuka honey for extra immune-boosting properties.
What is best to avoid?
Refined sugar, or anything overly heavy rich. It can be hard to digest and keep them up.
What is important when it comes to what they sleep on?
A comfy bed is as important for us adults as it is for little ones. Since my little one got her Panda toddler memory foam pillow she has been loving bedtime and been snug as a bug all night. She even cuddles it. I would definitely recommend the pillow for comfort, support, and get them looking forward to bedtime.
What are your 3 top tips for parents who are struggling?
- Educate yourself, get advice from good sleep coaches or books, or an expert who can come and see you.
- Remind yourself these are fleeting moments. This too shall pass, and YOU got this. Don’t be hard on yourself, rest if you can, be patient with yourself and get some extra help if need be.
- Make yourself care a priority, if you start doing little things for yourself that make you feel good, elevate your mood, energise you this will help all other areas of your life, like caring for your family. You cannot serve from an empty cup, so listen to your body, if you are feeling low on your wellbeing battery. Figure out a way to slowly implement small things into your lifestyle to lift you up, and recharge you.
What is your favourite way to unwind before bed?
I am the queen of a bedtime routine! It helps me unwind from the day and recharges me for the following morning. I start with a bath with lavender bubbles, pop on a soothing meditation guide, and implement my pampering skincare ritual I will be launching in 2022. Before lights out, I read something uplifting. This helps fill up your subconscious with lots of goodness while you sleep. I set a bedtime alarm for 11 pm, as I’m up for 7 am with my little one. Between 11 pm-1 am your kidneys are replenishing themselves, so if you are in a good deep rest during this time, you feel much more recharged and rejuvenated in the morning (a little secret beauty hack- it’s very anti-ageing.)
Sleep is the best medicine for our emotional wellbeing, feeling good, and healing from within. It’s not always easy to get beauty sleep as a parent so I mastered the art of disco naps! They are great for recharging any time of day. Slip-on an eye mask and give one a go.
Where can parents find you for more mum-spiration?
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