Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Fathers Can Get Involved During the Bedtime Routine

As any parent will tell you, nighttime is one of the most difficult times for new parents. After a day full of baby bottles, blowouts, and tantrums a busy parent desires only a smooth and easy trip to bed. One of the best ways to make bedtime run more smoothly is by establishing a consistent routine when your child is young. Of course, because a bedtime routine is one of the most important aspects of your baby's day-to-day life, it is also one of the most difficult things to establish and execute properly. Furthermore, because oftentimes a mother will stay at home for the first few months of the baby's life while the father works, some of the childcare can become skewed. It is important to develop a bedtime routine that involves both parents equally. These three activities will help new parents establish a healthy bedtime routine they can both participate in with their new bundles.

Take a Soak
One of the most popular things to incorporate into a child's bedtime routine is an evening bath. Laying a child or toddler down in a warm bath can help relax them and ease them into bed. Turn the lights on low and draw a warm bath. Gently wash your child in the warm water and allow both of you to really relax and prepare for rest. Bathing can be a great opportunity for dad to participate in childcare. If mom is breastfeeding, dad has little to do with the child's feeding process. Let dad take care of bath time because mom does the feeding. This is a great opportunity for dad to spend some quality time with his child when they are both relaxed and happy.

Play a Quiet Game
Burning off some extra steam can also be an important part of a successful bedtime routine. While this may not work for every family, for some it may really help a child (and parent) sleep through the night. Play a quiet game in the living room or baby's bedroom before bedtime. Something as simple as peek-a-boo can do the trick. However, if your baby has some pent up energy before bedtime, if can be a good idea to get some of it out before you both lay down to rest. Try dancing to your favorite song, bouncing, or playing "horsey". Of course, this technique may not work for all families. If your child seems to become energized by more active games before bedtime, it may be a better idea to leave this out.

Talk about the Day
Having a chat before your child goes to sleep can be a great way to bond with your child and relax before sleeping. While this may seem silly before your baby is old enough to talk, you can still have a narrative about your day with them without their replying. Because new mom's typically spend much of the day with their kids, having dad talk to their baby as part of the bedtime routine can give dad a chance to share his day with his child. The consistency and comfort of dad's voice can help sing your child to sleep and help dad relax after a long day. Books can also be a part of this, especially as your child ages.

These three bedtime tips are great activities for fathers or mothers to take part in. Setting a consistent bedtime routine for your baby can really save a lot of stress and a lot of sleep for both child and parents. Set a routine and try to stick with it, but don't be too strict about things. If your baby or toddler does not want to take a bath or play a game that night, there is no need to force things. Let the routine run smoothly and allow yourself and your child to relax during it. Getting on a regular schedule will help your baby learn when it is time to rest, encouraging them to sleep throughout the night.

What is your bedtime routine? How do you, fathers, get involved with your children during bedtime?

Author Bio:
This guest post is contributed by Leslie Johnson, who writes about health, green living, and parenting related articles at masters in health administration.

Image Citation: mentafredda

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