By Kristy Griffiths
We’ve all heard the term, “wind-down routine”, but what is it exactly? Well, it’s just that. A routine you use to wind your baby down in preparation for sleep.
It seems like we should be able to put a baby or a toddler in their cot, turn out the lights and that’s that. But if you think of us as adults, we struggle to simply lay down and go straight to sleep (ok, maybe not the case for the sleep-deprived parents, but you get the gist). We usually need a night routine with specific activities or habits that help encourage our minds to settle down and prepare for switch off. Babies and children are no different, especially since they thrive on routine.
A good wind-down routine for babies starts with minimising activities that continue to stimulate their minds. If you’ve ever tried to put your baby to sleep soon after playing in an environment with harsh lighting and loud noises, you may understand what I mean.
Essentially a wind-down ritual is a consistent routine that prompts your little ones to know that sleep is coming. These rituals are going to look different for every family and each child. However, there are a few core elements that you can incorporate to form a good foundation from newborns to toddlerhood.
- a swaddle, sleeping bag, sleepsuit, or pyjamas
- a dark or dim room
- white noise
- cuddles or a massage
The wind-down ritual does not need to be extensive, it just needs to be consistent. Consistency allows your baby to learn the cues that will help them to know that it’s bedtime. The more consistent you can be, the more your little one is going to expect it and the less likely they will put up a fight.
As your newborn becomes more accustomed to the basic wind-down rituals, you can begin to add on more elements like story time that will continue to settle down your growing baby and prepare them for sleep. Here are just a few elements that you can start to incorporate.
Some add ons:
- a warm bath
- applying lotion, powder or cream,
- singing a lullaby
- reading a book
- snuggling or rocking
- saying good night to the stars/pets/family members.
Remember, you don’t need to incorporate all of these suggestions to have a successful wind-down routine.
For example, the wind-down ritual of a newborn may include a massage, swaddle, and a warm room with white noise that may only take a few minutes to settle them down, whereas the wind-down of a toddler may look like a sleepsuit, dim lighting, and reading a book of their choice for a longer length of time. The older and more stimulated, they are, the longer the wind down routine may need to be.
If you are going to introduce a wind-down ritual into your baby’s routine, I would recommend investing in a high-quality product from an early stage, with features that will grow and adjust as your little one does. The Cubo Ai is a baby monitor has incredible features that cater to all stages, from newborn toddlers. Cubo Ai’s built-in lullabies work wonders for toddlers and the white noise and nature sounds are perfect for those first years. The two-way audio will soon become your best friend when it comes time to reminding your little one to settle back down after you have left the room.
Wind down routines won’t just make the sleep process easier, but it also makes it more enjoyable; it’s an opportunity for you and your baby to enjoy quality, bonding time together.
However, don’t expect your baby to sleep like an angel as soon as you implement a ritual. A wind-down routine won’t be your saviour if you aren’t following age-appropriate waking windows. These awake windows are great guides, suggesting how long your baby should be awake depending on their age. Understanding this guide could be the difference between an easy settle or a difficult settle.
At the end of the day, consistency is key; the more often you use your wind-down routine, the quicker your little one will see this as their new norm and bedtime will become a lot more enjoyable for you all.
Kristy Griffiths, Cubo Ai Ambassador & Expert Child Sleep Teacher.