Dr Amanda Gummer Says...
Dr. Amanda Gummer has dedicated her life to working with children and families in a variety of settings since 1993. As well as running a family support charity in London and teaching children...
The importance of a good bed-time routine
With time so scarce and lots to do, it’s tempting to try and get the kids to bed quickly and skip the routine, here Dr Amanda Gummer writes on bedtime and the importance of a good night time routine – to help everyone sleep soundly.
Families’ lives are becoming increasingly busy and bedtime can be a precious time, sometimes it’s the only time of the day in which parents and children really communicate, cuddle and just enjoy being together. This closeness and security helps infants develop the all-important attachment, so important for their later mental health and future relationships.
With increasing numbers of working parents and a raft of other demands on modern families, it can be easy to squeeze ‘family time’. But think before you rush bedtimes and miss out on cuddles and stories. Children find routine comforting and habits such as reading and relaxing before bed can stay with children throughout their childhood.
By creating routines and traditions - a favourite toy that is cuddled during the story and taken to bed, a special comfy place to read the story, a special phrase to say good night, a funny tooth brushing song etc.- can all help the child enjoy bedtime and relax into sleep.
It’s not difficult to see the benefits of a bedtime routine for babies and young children. If the same routine is followed night after night, (e.g. bath, bottle, cuddle and story, lights out), even a young baby will soon learn the order of events, be comfortable and happy moving from one activity to the next, and settle down quickly into a restful sleep. This will benefit everyone: parents get an evening to themselves, or are able spend time with older children, and babies who have a good night’s sleep will be more likely to feed well and to respond positively to the events of the next day.
Dr Gummer’s top 5 tips to make the most of bedtimes
1. Try to keep the routine the same every night, especially for young children, so even if different adults are involved, the child knows what to expect.
2. Turn off phones/laptops etc – even the beep of a text can be distracting and can give a child the feeling that you’ve got more important things to do
3. Make sure the child’s basic needs are met – a hungry, cold child will find it difficult to settle and concentrate on the bedtime activities, so make it cosy – a warm drink and a favourite cuddly toy will help a child relax
4. Spend time cuddling and chatting as well as reading stories.
5. Minimise fast-paced stimulation such as computer games or tv – make the home a calm, soothing place to be, turning off bright lights and avoiding loud noises.