11 excellent Bath, Book, Bed tips that work - from parents
Published on: 12 April 2018 Author: Catriona Wightman
Our Bath, Book, Bed campaign is all about helping you get your little ones to sleep - and we know how important that is for your whole family.
That's why we loved hosting a Twitter party where parents shared stories, tips, and advice - basically, all the hacks that work for them! We've picked out some of our favourites below to help you...
1. Build up to the routine
It turns out that it might be useful thinking about bedtime even before you start your Bath, Book, Bed routine. 'Don't just drop bedtime on them,' suggested @danigraves87. 'Lead up to it. We use a sand timer to say how long they have left to finish playing a game or with toys so they have a visual and know what's happening. We found it stopped the moaning and asking for more time.'
So put away all that noisy stuff in advance. @MummyEst2014 said: 'Having wind down time before the bedtime routine starts helps in our house. Half an hour before we go upstairs, we put away noisy toys and play board games and quiet games. This means J starts to get into the frame of mind that the day is ending and bedtime is starting.'
And that means computers, tablets, phones, TVs and the like, too, with lots of parents saying they limit screen time before bed. 'We sometimes make or draw things before Bath, Book, Bed as it gets them relaxed and away from tech,' explained @Marysia01313, while @catskidschaos suggested an hour free from screens before bedtime.
But sometimes, you just have to go with it! 'If your little one is awake and energetic when you attempt to settle for the night, go with the energy!' suggested @ThisWomansWord. 'Have a game of rough and tumble to tire them out as opposed to getting frustrated and having potential power struggles. This worked for us.'
2. Create a calming environment
Get the smellies out! 'Lavendar baths are an essential in this house,' joked @jessicalathan, while @Fish_Brain07 suggested: 'I think the bedtime scented bath bubbles and lotions are great to get little ones nice and relaxed before bed, they sure make me feel sleepy!' Just as long as you don't fall asleep first...
@cheepcheepcheep certainly sets the mood, explaining that her family uses 'lavender on the pillows, low lighting and a bit of Simon & Garfunkel after reading. My wee hippies!'
But it's also about the light - 'black out blinds work wonders', @battynatty29 said, while @BeckyW213 explained: 'We always use a night light to read with. It makes my daughter sleepier and easier to switch off after we've read our book.' Lighting's important for @chrowe1988, too, who said: 'We use a side light or dimmed lights as from experience my daughter gets wide awake and associates bright lights with daytime and play time.'
@rockbabyworld also suggested trying out a star projector and white noise ('even when our smallest didn't need it any more - we came to rely on it ourselves!') while @catskidschaos pointed out that it's important to make the bed as cosy and comfy as possible: 'We used sleep sacks and now a weighted blanket. It helps them feel secure and calm.'
3. Be prepared
The Scouts are definitely on to something. 'Choose the books and PJs before the bath so they are ready and waiting when they get out,' suggested @Tantrums2Smiles. 'This way it avoids them getting excited or frustrated trying to find their favourite story or PJs - that throws off the whole routine!'
@BeckysBoudoir couldn't agree more: 'Having pyjamas ready and warming on the radiator helps stave off any potential pre-bed drama.'
(Speaking of pyjamas, @shellywkd had some thoughts: 'PJs are the way to go. It used to be onesies but they are so hard to get on after a bath. It was too frustrating.' Even that little tip could make your bedtime easier!)
It's not just about pyjamas, though - sometimes you can just tell that bedtime will be a battle. 'Easier said than done, I know, but try to stay calm if it doesn't go to plan,' advised @Tantrums2Smiles. 'I try and judge my kids' mood and if I know i's going to be a tricky night I give us more time so if they refuse to get out the bath or into pyjamas we have a bit more time and I'm not stressing.'
Of course, however committed you are to sticking to Bath, Book, Bed, life sometimes gets in the way - but @Tantrums2Smiles suggests you prepare for that. 'It's a great idea to get little ones used to the shower too, so that way if you are on holiday or somewhere a bath isn't available, you can still stick to your routine using the shower. My little girl likes to sit under the shower whilst in the bath!'
And @charliej22 made sure her little ones could continue their Bath, Book, Bed routine when she wasn't there: 'When I was working away, I recorded myself reading five different books so that when I wasn't there, my children could still snuggle up together at bedtime and listen to a story read my their mummy - it worked perfectly.'
4. Make the routine work for your family
It's all about finding what works for your family. Lots of parents said their little ones don't have a bath every night because of eczema, or they have it at a different time of day because their children get too excited before bed.
In the case of @mrsthinksalot, it's the story that's too stimulating! 'We do Book-Bath-Bed as M was getting too excited by her book to go to sleep! It works well for us and the story still features in the routine, which is important.'
5. Make up your own stories
Bath, Book, Bed is a great time to find out what's going on with your little ones - even without them knowing it! 'They like it when I make up the stories, letting them at the beginning choose the location, characters and names to inspire me,' said @Marysia01313. 'It's great as they often choose things that have happened in their day... You find their new friends' names and often their personalities by asking are they happy, laughing, grumpy?'
@laurajjorg also enjoys getting creative: 'Once we've read our bedtime books my 4-year-old and I make up stories about his fictional self going on an adventure. He gets to choose the adventure and I have to use my imagination. It always ends up with his character ending up in bed and falling asleep!'
6. Try a massage
No, not for you - for your little ones! 'A soothing massage can help relax them, after bathtime or just before bed,' said @catskidschaos, while @LauraS27818 agreed: 'My eldest loved her legs being massaged. I'm hoping to start a massage class with my four-month-old in a couple of weeks. It's such a relaxing thing to do.' (And then maybe treat yourself to one, too!)
7. Get the whole family involved
How lovely to make the bedtime routine something everyone can enjoy! 'We found visiting relatives often liked to get involved in Bath, Book, Bed and it shows that everyone loves and values books,' said @Londinium_Life, while lots of parents shared stories of their older children reading to their younger ones.
Of course, sometimes you might have to improvise. 'My son recently slept at his grandma's and I forgot to send a book,' confessed @danigraves87. 'She had to pretend Martina Cole was Goldilocks and the Three Bears.' Nice work!
8. Be led by your child
'Don't worry that you've already read the book a squillion times - they are still getting plenty from it,' promised @caroline_clary, although of course, that doesn't mean you won't be able to recite it off by heart. As @Londinium_Life said: 'Put up with repeats for the millionth time. Don't murder your husband when your child has FINALLY moved on from a title and he suggests it again!' Wise words.
@Luckysammyg also advised letting your child choose their bedtime story ('it doesn't matter if you don't finish the book, or read it properly, but you can look at the pages and talk about what might be happening'), while @Tantrums2Smiles suggested: 'Let them take the lead in things like choosing the bedtime story, choosing pyjamas, helping to run the bath. If they feel involved and like it is their choice, it can make them more receptive to doing it.'
9. Make the most of your local library
Don't feel like you have to buy heaps of new books for bedtime - as @caroline_clary said: 'Don't forget your local library; you can borrow all you need for free and you are supporting a great, local resource.' @Tantrums2Smiles agreed: 'My kids love new books (especially now my son is older and reads books much faster). But they both love visiting our local library to choose new books for the week, and it means we can choose new ones whenever!'
@2ophie_ suggested trying charity shops, too. 'We are helping others and the books are helping us,' she said. 'We always donate them back once they have been read so another family can have use of them.'
10. Make books a treat
We're already counting down to December after @Tantrums2Smiles' suggestion of a book advent calendar! 'We put 24 books under the tree and every night before bed they found the numbered book and that was our bedtime story for the night. The kids loved it and we have lots of new books to enjoy!'
@Jenba590 suggested buying books as presents at other times, too. 'My two boys love books. The last few Easters they have asked for books instead of chocolate eggs! So we had a trip to the bookstore to choose some books, and of course they still had a couple of chocolate eggs, just not lots.'
11. Take your time
As with all things, don't rush! 'No distractions for parents,' advised @catskidchaos. 'Don't answer the home phone, put your smartphone down. Ignore the door. Focus on bedtime helps it to go more smoothly.'
After all, as @MissyMaryMooToo pointed out, more haste, less speed. 'Does anyone else find that if you try to hurry along the bedtime routine and skip the story, your child gets upset with the change in routine and therefore takes longer to settle, so in fact those few minutes you thought you were saving are long gone?' That's definitely one to keep in mind...
What's worked with your Bath, Book, Bed routine? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
We've picked out 14 stories that we think are perfect for Bath, Book, Bed - find out what's on the list and see inside with our gallery.
Author and former CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell - whose book Fairy Magic is on our Best Bedtime Books list - shares how Bath, Book, Bed works for her.