Troubleshooting with Jo Frost

Jo Frost

Bath, Book, Bed is a tried and trusted simple routine to quickly get little ones to the land of nod. But of course, I know that winning those baby bedtime battles can often be more complicated in practice than in theory.

Here are a few questions parents have asked me when they're experiencing difficulties and my thoughts.

For more tips and advice, ask your health visitor or visit ihv.org.uk/families.

Getting started

  • My child is too young - I don't need to establish this sort of routine until they're older…do I?

    When our babies are young we see sleeping patterns. This helps us to establish a healthy routine so that we can help them distinguish between night and day. Also so they can get the amount of sleep that is vital for them.

    As you start to see these patterns of sleep you will feel more confident at creating your routine which in turn, in later months to come, will be a healthy bedtime ritual of Bath, Book, Bed.

  • My child refuses to go upstairs for bed - the battle starts before it's even begun. What can I do?

    When they are having fun, most children do not want the day to end. Even though sleep is good for them, most kids will resist it. I think it is important to navigate your bedtime ritual with a positive attitude. 

    Most parents are exhausted from their busy days come this time of the evening, and that can make a child feel more anxious before going off to bed. So dedicate giving your time to your children so that they are able to enjoy bathtime, getting rid of that last bit of energy.

    You could enjoy a winding-down foot massage or back rub before tucking into bed and reading one of their favourite books with you. You see when bedtime is not drudgery then it's not a bad thing to have to do.

  • My child prefers playing games to reading. Can I substitute my tablet for a book?

    There are some fantastic educational games that children love to play, but at bedtime, books are better than digital activity. Evidence suggests that books (and being read to by a grown up) have a calming effect on our brains, whereas lit screens and digital activity can create excitement and actually wake us up.

    I recommend turning all screens off and sticking to physical books at bedtime. Combined with love and cuddles and age-appropriate stories, books make for a perfect bedtime.

  • I don't have time to read a story to my children at bedtime; I do it during the day instead. Is this a problem?

    It's fantastic you share books with your children in the daytime - any time is a good time to read together. I would really encourage you to read to your child at night as well, even for just 10 minutes.

    Something as simple as a few nursery rhymes or a picture book will help your child to unwind and relax. In the long term it's a healthy association.

A baby yawning

Enjoying books together

A toddler sleeping

Saying good night

BBB Booklet

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