When you first become a parent you should be issued with two things – a year’s supply of coffee and a tee-shirt saying ‘DO NOT ASK ME HOW THEY’RE SLEEPING!’ PLEASE’
You see when you’re accompanied by your baby (which you are most of the time, including when you wee), members of the public seem to be drawn to you. When you’re alone people will make an effort to give you your space and avoid eye contact. If they must speak to you then they’ll make idle chit chat about the weather, the news, the coffee. But once you have a baby with you, they ask questions.
‘girl or boy?’
‘are they good?’
‘who do they look most like?’
Then comes the biggie…
…’do they sleep well?’
I really don’t know why strangers ask this. The vast majority of the time the answer will be no and the new parent will be left lamenting their lack of shut eye. And they can’t really offer any advice because every baby is different.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to pick the brains of parenting expert Jo Frost, who is helping Books Trust to bring their ‘bath, book, bed’ message to families all around the country. Dorothy and I went along to the Trafford Centre to see what they had to say- well, I did. Dorothy slept through it!
Jo explained that children should play in the bath, burning off their last bits of energy, then enjoy a nice story before bed.
Following the same routine every day makes children feels secure and helps them to get in the right frame of mind to sleep.
Unfortunately we have two problems with this method.
1. Dorothy has eczema and can’t be bathed every night. So not only do we lack the first stage of the routine, she doesn’t have the chance to burn off her energy on ‘no bath’ nights.
Jo suggested that we make playtime out of washing Dorothy’s face. So instead of a quick wipe, we should fill the sink with toys and make a game of it.
2. Because we read books all the time, bedtime reading is seen as playtime by my little monkey. In fact, I often think she gets more excited than relaxed by her bedtime story (a bit like Mummies when Tom Hardy reads to them!) and finishing it becomes a battle of wills.
Jo suggested limiting the kind of books that can be chosen at night. Perhaps keeping them in a separate place so that when we choose a book from that particular shelf, Dottie knows that this is an indication that it’s time to go to sleep.
The crowd had lots of interesting questions to ask and as time went on the children (apart from mine who slept through most of it) became more and more excited about Jo’s special guest!
Spot the toddler who doesn’t watch Peppa Pig ?
I found the advice really useful and look, here’s Dorothy fast asleep ? Yep. Now she just needs to stay there until morning! *smiles and nods*
You can find out more about Bookstrust’s ‘Bath, Book, Bed’ campaign, aswell as recommended titles to soothe your child to sleep by heading over to their website. Booktrust.org.uk
In the meantime, I’m interested to know, what would you have asked Jo Frost?
*I was compensated for my time attending the Book Trust event but all views are my own*