Clearly, this post is going to curse my run of good luck, but Kitty is a pretty good sleeper. She has always loved her ‘big girl bed’ (actually Alfie’s oldÂ Brio cotbed) and is happy to snuggle down with her myriad ‘soft friends’. Of course, there are rituals – I suspect my reading of five stories every night has created the ‘illicit reading by torchlight under the covers’ culture that exists in the other bedroom – but, if your little one struggles with dropping off, here are some tools it might be useful to have at your fingertips.
Everyone talks about routine being important for establishing happy bedtimes and there is a lot to be said for a lovely, soothing bath – I know I love a good soak before turning in. There are also lots of bath and skincare products designed to induce sleepiness in little onesÂ – woo hoo!Â We’ve always usedÂ Earth Friendly Baby Calming Lavender Bubble Bath, (Â£3.99, Boots) at bathtime, and I also like This Works Baby Sleep Body Lotion, Â£15, which contains calming lavender and camomile andÂ Lala & Bea’s Organic Sleep Tight Pillow Spray, Â£14, which has relaxing Ylang Ylang (and the ubiquitous lavender) oils as its base. I have a friend who swears by Little Green Radicals Organic Sleep Balm, (Â£9.90, Babi Pur) – so that’s definitely worth a try as well.
Being afraid of the dark is a classic barrier to sleep. And pretending to be afraid of the dark is a great distraction/avoidance tactic. Eliminate both with a decentÂ nightlight. My two both love their ISI Mini owls (Â£24, John Lewis), which have the benefit of being cordless, so come on our travels with us as well. Alfie has always been keen on lots of nightlights, so he still also has a Moon in my Room (Â£29.99, Bright Minds), which has the added benefit of looking incredibly cool on his blackboard wall, and a space projector. Kitty additionally sleeps withÂ Russell the Sleep Dog (Â£34.99, Sweet Dreamers), Ewan the Dream Sheep’s big brother, whoÂ contains a voice recorder option, alongside the soothing blue and green light in his tummy.
Sometimes not sleeping is down to external factors – too hot, too cold etc, so multi-purpose products come into their own. GroBag does a great range (our GroEgg thermometer, Â£21.99, is now a sleepy Orla the owl light, Â£4.99) and the brilliant GroClock, Â£29.99, which encourages children to stay in bed for longer – always a good thing! I swore by my Aden & Anais Serenity Star, Â£64.95, when Kitty was tiny – it gives off such a relaxing glow, and also plays music and white noise.
Creating a cosy nest is also key to persuading toddlers they want to be in bed. I’m sure that the reason Kitty doesn’t really get out of bed is that I kept her in a sleeping bag after we took the sides off the cotbed. When we finally had to dispense with it because she was so tall, I think she just forgot that she could get out of bed! Even now,Â she rarely gets out for any other reason than a trip to the loo. Obviously, Grobag is the name everyone knows (and their collaboration with Anorak is amazing), but you’ll also find some lovely sleeping bags that fitÂ up to age two to three at Aden + Anais, Slumbersac (check out the ones with feet and long sleeves) and Lulu & Nat.
Try to choose bedding with your little one – make them feel involved and it mightÂ encourage them to stay in bed. KittyÂ has a Magnus & MouseÂ lion sheet, By Graziela duvet set and Sture and FolkeÂ toddler blanket, which is just divine. Check out our 10 BestÂ and BG Guide to… Children’s BedlinenÂ for more suggestions.
IÂ sometimes struggle to spot my children when I go in to check on them at night, because of the sheer number of ‘soft friends’ they insist on having in their beds. Most of them rotate, but there are a couple they purport to be unableÂ to sleep without – for Alfie, it’s a tortoise called ScaleshellÂ and, recently, a tiny robot (from Shop BG!) called… RobotÂ and, for Kitty, a labrador called Wub Wub (named before she could say woof woof), Big Bunny (Grand Sylvain byÂ Moulin Roty)Â and an Aden & Anais circus print muslin. We’ve done a couple of round ups of comforters in the past, but I also really recommend Esthex’s CuddleclothsÂ (Â£14, The Wee Department Store) and Flatout Bears (Â£39, Pegged) – love the liquorice one – for their general softness and cuddleability.
For me, nightly bedtime stories is the number one thing you can do for your children. Of course, they’ll all have their own favourites, but here are a few calming books, that usually end with the characters falling asleep, so you can lower your voice and your little one can (in theory) drift off into dreamland…
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (PanMacMillan, RRP Â£5.99)
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (Chronicle, RRP Â£11.99)
The Midnight Library by Kozuno Kohara (PanMacMillan, RRP Â£6.99)
Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Penguin, RRP Â£6.99)
Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss by Mandy Sutcliffe (Hachette, RRP Â£6.99)
There is, of course, the phenomenon of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep byÂ Carl-Johan ForssÃ©n Ehrlin, which is supposed to magically (well, using psychology) send your children to sleep before you’ve even finished it, but we haven’t needed it yet! At Â£8.99 though, it has to be worth a try, especially if you’re at the end of your tether. Sweet dreams, everyone!