Whether you are a new parent or well versed with lots of tiny humans to your name, there is no single rule on how to get your child into a good sleeping pattern. We all start at different ages, we all try different things, and I don’t think there is any one rule or system that is guaranteed to work for every child. However, what I do think is that there is no harm in sharing the top tips that have worked for us with our first in case one day they turn out to be useful for you too. I am no parenting expert, and maybe our second child will arrive and these things won’t work for him/her in the same way they did for Evie, we can only wait and see.
I am not going to outline here the whole bedtime routine that we use, instead I have decided to take a slightly different angle on this and discuss the products that we use instead. There are so many things out there to buy, and so many claim to be the biggest bestest cure for children with poor sleeping habits. But we have found that there are only a few essential items that we don’t travel without because they are what work best for us at bedtime. So, before you splurge and spend on lots of things that may not be any use, have a read at the below and see if any of these things could help first.
- A blackout blind/blackout curtains
I personally prefer a blind. As long as the rope is safely connected to the wall using an approved system then your child is safe from harm, however, blinds are significantly trickier for children to raise and lower compared to curtains which are fairly easy to open in comparison. So if your toddler is as inquisitive a little monkey as our Evie is, I would recommend a blind over curtains.
And a blackout blind really is a MUST. You know what it’s like when you wake up in the night because of some noise, or lights, or simply just to go to the toilet…once you’re too awake it’s almost impossible to get back to sleep. We have all heard of the detrimental effect the backlight on our phones have on us if we read them too late at night, and it’s no different for your child. Remember your little one is likely going to be sleeping during hours of the day that are not yet dark – especially when they are still having daytime naps, or during the summer months. Blocking out as much light as possible is imperative to ensure that your child is not over-stimulated and wakened by brightness. Shop Evie’s blackout blind here.
2. A bedtime story
Evie likes The Gruffalo. We have tried reading lots of different stories to her, and occasionally she mixes it up, but as a little creature of habit with most things in her life, The Gruffalo it is on most evenings. Now at the age of 23 months she is at the stage where she knows some of the words and reads it along with us in places. Not only is it lovely to see/hear her reading a story we have helped her to become familiar with, but The Gruffalo now signifies to her that it is in fact bed time because we normally only read her The Gruffalo at bedtime, she doesn’t read it at other points in the day. We have a sturdy cardboard version of the book (I think it’s called a board book), which is ideal for little fingers, I would recommend this kind of published version over a paper copy when they are young.
3. Mussi Cuski
My best friend gifted us a comforter for Evie when she was born. I remember thinking it looked really weird, kind of like a colorful ghost, but it’s turned out to be our absolute favourite product for bedtime, to the point where we now have 2: one for all the time and one for emergencies when they other is in the wash, or lost, or left at nursery, etc.
Mussi Cuski is a bamboo muslin breathable comforter which makes it safe for children of all ages, even before the 6 month mark. Did you know that babies younger than 6 months should not use a ‘normal’ comforter because they haven’t learned how to move fabric from over their faces and comforters are therefore a risk of suffocation? The Mussi Cuski bamboo muslin version is amazing because even if it ends up over baby’s face, baby remains safe.
I think it’s important for baby to have sleep associations from a very young age. I remember laughing at myself and my own idiocy when I was giving Evie this comforter for her to sleep with at only a month old, because really it just lay there next to her doing nothing. But as she grew up she began to associate the comforter with bedtime, and now its what she seeps with every night. Again, like The Gruffalo, we don’t give her Mussi unless its bedtime, so it is a perfect part of her bedtime routine now. Shop mussi cuski here.
4. Breathable bumper
Like every parent, decorating the nursery is one of the things I loved most when preparing for baby to come. It was so much fun getting our new baby’s space ready for her arrival. We thought cot bumpers looked lovely, but the fact of the matter is that they are not safe because, like with comforters, when baby is very young and immobile, they are not able to remove fabric from their faces and are at risk of suffocation if they end up sleeping against the cot bumper. However, I fully appreciate the problem of trapped arms and legs, and I still remember the first time Evie cried out in pain when her little 5 month old arm was stuck between cot bars and wall. So, we bought a breathable bumper.
Breathable bumpers are not pretty, but its a much better solution to have a not very pretty nursery than to have a baby at risk of pain or suffocation, so it was a no brainer solution for us. When Evie was bigger and able to stand up we removed the bumper so she couldn’t use it as a stepping stone leverage and potentially fall out of the cot. But surprisingly, it ended up being brought back out again recently.
Evie’s big girl bed is my old bed, a day bed that has quite big gaps between the bars…definitely big enough for her little toddler sized head to potentially get stuck. Although the bed is against the wall, I wanted to be on the safe side and used the breathable cot bumper to line the bars of her bed. From the days she was in her cot to this day Evie snuggles up against the wall of her bed to go to sleep, so the bumper has proven to be a great solution, and a padded wall for her to sleep against. Shop breathable bumper here.
5. Sleeping bag
Our Evie is such a little wriggler and always has been, she tosses and turns all night. So from when she was a tiny baby until now we have really struggled to use bedclothes for her because she just kicks them off and gets into a right old fankle with them. Enter the sleeping bag! I think it was the brand Grobag that made these so popular, but if I’m super honest I’ve never bought that brand, I tend to go to the supermarket or Tk Maxx for them. Coming in all colours, patterns and tog weightings, sleeping bags are such a great solution for all weathers and sleepers. When Evie is in the sleeping bag I never need to worry about her getting too cold in the night.
Evie is now learning to undress herself, and there was nothing funnier than 6.30am the other morning when I opened the bathroom door to her standing outside it with the sleeping bag pushed as low as her waist. She hadn’t unzipped it, she has just struggled her arms out of the arm holes and then shimmied the closed sleeping bag down as far as she could. She had managed to waddle from her bed to the bathroom with the sleeping bag around her waist and legs because she couldn’t work out how to push it all the way down over her bottom. She’s such a cutie.