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Top tips for winding down before sleep

Winding down routines are a great part of getting your child ready for sleep, whether it be day or night. They help to steer children away from the stimulation and busy times of the household, de-stimulate them and act as a cue for a child to expect sleep.

Every child and baby is different. Some will only need a very short wind-down period, while others might need a bit longer. But no matter how long it takes, most children actually enjoy it because they get to spend some time with a loved one.

What does a good wind-down routine look like?

It differs for every family, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Brushing teeth, rinsing gums, changing a nappy or taking a toilet break when appropriate
  • Darkening your baby’s room – close curtains/blinds, turn off bright lights
  • Putting sleeping bags or pyjamas on
  • Changing your behaviour from playful to quiet
  • Saying goodnight to people, toys or objects in the room
  • Saying phrases such as “goodnight; time for sleep” as your baby goes into their cot
  • Reading stories together, talking or singing
  • If your child in younger than two years old, storytime sitting on your lap
  • Children over two years do best with stories in their bed with their head resting on their pillow

A note on reading

Storytime is common way to settle a child for sleep, but if you feel that reading does the opposite, then it may be better as a play activity. Picture books could actually defeat the purpose of “winding down” by over-stimulating your child. Reciting a story or just talking to them quietly might be a better way to go.

When should I start?

As a guide, aim to take your child to their room 5 to 20 minutes before it’s bedtime in the day, and 15 to 20 minutes at night. Keep your baby awake during the wind-down routine; the aim is to help your baby relax, not to be drowsy from the wind-down process.

  • Young babies: 1-2 minutes of wind-down
  • Active rolling and crawling babies: 10 minutes of wind-down
  • Toddlers who are pulling to stand and crawling or walking: 20 minutes of wind-down.

Of course, if your baby or child is unsettled through their wind-down, stop and start settling them to sleep.

Get in Touch

For more information on getting your child to sleep, please contact us online or call (03) 9881 9516. Alternatively, click here to find out more about our Early Parenting Centre Program.

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Top tips for winding down before sleep