Our Gentle Bed Time Routine

A Gentle Bed Time Routine.pngFor most of us gentle parenting folk, the word ‘routine’ is a scary, scary word.

The word routine has such a bad rep now thanks to the likes of Gina Fraud, *vom* and Super Nanny *vom*, oh and I must not forget Tizzy Hall *vom*.

Their idea of routine is chuck your baby in their cot as soon as it his 7pm and then don’t communicate with them again until morning time. I didn’t realise parenting was only part time hours, some how I’ve ended up with full time parenting hours. Ah well.

Anyway, those of you who know me will know that we have been struggling with Freddie’s sleep for about 5 months now. It wasn’t really the sleep itself that was the issue. He would wake up literally every hour and I didn’t really have an issue with that as I know that for a lot of babies that is completely normal and healthy, it was the fact that during the day he was a complete wreck as he was so tired and grumpy. Oh, and because he was so over tired all the time he also stopped having day time naps so he was only getting around 9-10 hours of sleep in 24 hours. For some babies this is more than enough, but for Freddie this was clearly too little due to how grumpy he was.

I could not for the life of me work out what was wrong, at first I put it down to a leap or growth spurt but after 2 months I started to realise that it probably wasn’t that.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I LOVE Sarah Ockwell-Smith. She is an author, gentle parenting expert and attachment parent advocate. I absolutely love her and think she’s the bees knees. She has a very gentle, responsive and child-led approach to parenting and she inspires me A LOT.

So when I was scrolling down my dashboard on WordPress I was quite shocked when I came across her latest Vlog. I’m not gonna lie, the title made me wince but I watched the video anyway as I am always interested in what Sarah says.

‘The Importance Of Bed Time Routines For Babies & Toddlers.’



If you don’t have time to watch the video or you simply CBA; she basically highlights the importance of the lead-up to the child’s or baby’s bed time. She mentions that the time itself is not that important. A general idea is a good thing so anywhere between 7pm-9pm for example but there is no point attempting to put a baby or child to bed when they are not tired and some days will be different to others if you are going out etc.

Unlike many ‘experts’ *ahem BULLSHIT* *ahem GINA FRAUD*, she says that rocking your baby to sleep or feeding your baby to sleep etc is NOT an issue. Body contact promotes bonding and security and there is NOTHING wrong with meeting your child’s emotional needs because us adults are equally emotionally needy and many of us will cuddle our partners to sleep (if you don’t have a baby in between you both).

Sarah reccomends starting with a wind-down routine after tea. Turn off the TV and limit electronics. Play with some toys or do some painting or crafts and listen to some music. After a while of winding down you can start the bed-time routine. The thing I like about Sarah’s example of a bed time routine is that there are no strict times or schedules. It IS baby led.

Gather everything you will need into the bedroom that they will fall asleep in. So a clean nappy, pyjamas, body lotion/oil and a few bed time stories.

Take the baby into the bathroom and get them into a nice warm bath. After a few days of doing this routine they will begin to connect bath time to the beginning of their bed time and will help them wind down.

Once bathed, take them into the bedroom and make sure the lights are dim and the curtains are closed in preparation for this. Sarah recommends giving the baby or toddler a gentle massage with lotion or oil. By ‘massage’ she doesn’t mean that the baby or toddler has to stay still because from 6 months onwards your baby will probably be moving around more! This massage is more about the skin to skin contact and meeting your child’s physical needs and if your baby/child has this skin to skin contact now they will be less likely to keep waking for physical contact and reassurance (although it’s completely normal for babies to wake up for this anyway!!).

Once baby/toddler is massaged and in pyjamas you can settle down and start to read them the book in a soft and gentle voice and of course, you can breastfeed or cuddle whilst reading to them.

This is pretty much all there is to the routine and I love how gentle and baby led it is.

After watching this video, I realised what the issue was with Freddie’s sleep and well being.

We would go straight from being a hustley-bustley bright, loud front room and taken into bed and boobed to sleep all in the space of minutes. Obviously I wasn’t allowing him time to wind down so he wasn’t getting a good quality of sleep.

Obviously every baby is different, some babies thrive off gentle and baby led routines whereas some don’t need it and can wind down by themselves.

Sarah also highlights in the video that even as adults we have some sort of winding down and bed time routine. And thinking about it, it’s certainly true in mine and my partners case.

It’s been over a week since introducing a gentle winding down and bed time routine and I must say we have noticed a massive difference already and it’s also reallllly helped with getting him to sleep without me there. I’ve recently started doing evening shifts and the first time I had my evening shift was a complete nightmare and ended in tears and a total breakdown from my partner! However, on day 4 of using this approach Simon got him to sleep in the Tula after following his winding down routine and he slept until I came home!

I think it’s important to know the difference between a schedule and a routine. A schedule is a very strict sequence of events at particular times. A routine is a sequence of events in a certain order at any given time and can also be switched and changed.

I’m feeling so much more positive now about leaving Freddie to go to work in the evenings and also about the fact that he is a lot happier during the day and also naps easier. It’s only been a week or so but we are starting to see a massive difference and there has been absolutely no tears or anything traumatic for either of us!


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Thanks For The Advice But I Won’t Leave My Baby To Cry

I think most of us have a well meaning family member or friend who tries to dish out their unsolicited advice. It’s funnier when they don’t even have children and they try to tell you that picking your child up … Continue reading

Why The Phrase Should Be Happy Baby Happy Mummy

Ever heard of the phrase ‘happy mummy, happy baby’? Of course you have. This phrase was originally created to help mommas who were suffering with post natal illnesses (or any mental health illnesses in fact), because its true; if mum … Continue reading

Detachment Parenting And Why It May Be Harming Your Children AND You

Detachment parenting has less to do with co sleeping, baby wearing and breastfeeding but more to do with how responsive you are as a parent.

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If you don’t answer your babies cries out of fear that you’re spoiling them, if you only feed to a schedule and if you refuse to comfort them past 7PM until 7AM then you are probably a detachment parent. I know plenty of mum’s who class themselves as AP and they don’t co sleep, baby wear or breastfeed. They respond to their babies cues, that’s all it takes really. There is this massive myth that if you’re an attachment parent then it means that you have your baby ATTACHED to you 24/7. (which to be fair I have had plenty of days like that, especially when Freddie was a newborn)

The word ‘attachment’ in the term Attachment Parenting is less physical and more emotional. It means attached in the sense of you and your baby having a good attachment and bond. It means your baby trusts you and knows that all their needs will be met and they will not be left to cry. It also means they feel safe to test the boundaries and occasionally cry for attention. Because crying for attention isn’t a bad thing, it’s normal and if they’re crying for attention then its probably because they need it.

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Dr Sears (the King of AP) recommends breastfeeding as part of being an attachment parent however he also recognises that it isn’t necessary to be an AP. He suggests that if you do not breastfeed, then to ‘mimic’ the act by being the babies main feeder and cradling baby close to you whilst feeding them, as if you would whilst breastfeeding.

Attachment parenting is seen in such a negative light when in fact there’s nothing negative about it. You are simply attending to your babies needs and answering their cues no matter what time of the day it is. Whether you’re wearing your baby in a sling or cradling him, whether you’re breastfeeding or feeding your baby a bottle, whether you are co sleeping or settling your baby to sleep in their crib. If your baby’s needs are met and they are happy, then you’re probably doing Attachment Parenting right.

Some of my friends who class themselves as AP have never co slept, simply because they never needed to. Their baby settled fine in their moses basket or crib, so that was that. Whereas mums like me have found co sleeping to be an absolute life saver. (Read about our co sleeping adventures here.)

Another ridiculous misconception about AP is that we all walk around with armpit hair round our ankles, we stink of BO as we haven’t been able to take a shower without our babies crying and we don’t take time for ourselves. Whilst that may be true for some parents, most of us do not smell and our armpit hair is of reasonable length. Attachment Parents will be less likely to take time for themselves, especially in the first year or so, as their baby is their main priority and the first year seems to be the hardest to leave the baby. If your baby is sad without you so you do not leave them, then you are listening to their cues and desires. My ‘me time’ is when Freddie is in bed in the evenings or when Simon occasionally takes him out for a walk in the Tula. Yes, some days I probably do smell a bit worse than I’d like to, some days I cannot even brush my hair or put on my make-up, some days I barely even get dressed, some days I pee with a baby on my lap. But most of the time I still manage to shower (when my partner is home and can entertain Freddie), most of the time I do get to apply my make up (with Freddie on my back in the Tula or playing at my feet) and most of the time I can quickly run away for a pee in silence. (Sometimes.)

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SO, detachment parenting. How can it harm your child and yourself? There has been a lot of research in the past 10+ years to do with parenting techniques and the effects on children. It has been proven that Cry It Out raises the cortisol levels so much so that even when the child does learn to fall asleep on their own, they found that they were equally as stressed as they were when they were crying themselves to sleep. Many parents practise this method in an attempt to not have a ‘clingy’ baby and to teach their baby independence. To many parents who practise this, this method backfires on them as their child grows older.¬†Studies have shown¬†that babies and children who have been left to cry often have insecure attachments to their parents and therefore are more ‘clingy’ with them when they are older and find it more difficult to part with them. Many victims of the CIO method have later on reported that this had a great effect on them too, yes this may be anecdotal evidence but isn’t anecdotal evidence enough to put you off leaving your child to cry? What if that adult who is still damaged by being left to cry was once your little baby?

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It can harm you as a parent by living with the guilt of leaving your baby to cry. I’ve never met a parent who has said that they didn’t feel bad leaving their baby or child to cry. They all harp on about how guilty they feel, how do they think the baby feels? Your feelings are not more valid than your babies and your guilt is your instinct trying to tell you to answer your god damn baby. We are the only mammals who leave our babies to cry and the only mammals who purposely detach themselves from their babies and children. Why is that? Humans were once the same as every other mammal, we responded to our babies cries, we answered their cues and they were with us until they were securely attached and had the skills to move on and have their own family.

*Credit to the pictures*


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This Is What Bed Time With A Baby Looks Like

I think all mums have gone through this at some point, unless you’re one of those rare breeds who have baby who sleeps 12 hours a night every night without fail. (And if that’s you then… in the nicest possible way, I don’t want to know.)


Until recently, Freddie would get tired around 6pm, so i’d take him into bed and feed him to sleep. Simple. He may wake up once before me and my partner go to bed but usually he would be soundo until 11pm ish.

That is until the sleep regression entered our lives and had to piss all over it.

Now it goes a little like this:

Baby: *rubs eyes and whines out of tiredness*

Me: Oh, you’re tired huh? Okay, lets go to bed.

Baby: Haha, next joke mother.

Me: *feeds him for about an hour before he falls asleep*

Me: *ninja rolls out of bed and runs out of the room*

Me: *huge sigh of relief, settles down on the sofa to watch Desperate Housewives* (Which may I add has taken me about 4 months to get to series 3 #mumlife)


Me: Oh, he’s hungry again, no worries, I’ll just feed him for a bit and he will be fine.

Baby: *laughs hysterically in an evil manor.*

*2 hours later, I leave the bedroom with tears running down my face, a sore nose from being punched several times and a few scratches on my neck (I really need to trim his nails again, maybe tomorrow if I remember)*

Me: *collapses on the sofa and goes to finish the episode of Desperate Housewives that I’ve been trying to watch for about 4 days now.*

(If im lucky I get to finish this episode AND start another episode, yippee its like winning the lotto)

And in enters my partner, he finishes work quite late most nights so lets assume this is one of those nights. Our front door really needs oiling and as a result you have to slam it rather loudly for it to shut. So, *inserts loud slam*.

Partner: Honey, I’m home!!!

Me: *clenches teeth and waits for the inevitable wake up from the baby*

*silence, thank god, maybe he’s eventually settled into a nice deep milk coma* (Baby that is, not my partner!)

*Me and partner enjoy a nice cuddle on the sofa and talk about how our days have gone*



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