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  • Writer's pictureKat Lord

Creating a Gentle Sleep Routine for Your Baby and Young Children: Tips and Techniques

When I first started nannying, my experience of sleep schedules was very much the napping in the daytime, with the parents in charge of the night time routines. It was not until I became an overnight nanny that I had to really get to grips with sleep schedules.

Gina Ford has been in the news lately revealing that her controversial 'Cry-it out' method was only supposed to be done as a last resort.

As a nanny of a baby who woke multiple times in the night, I was working 94 hour shifts on very little sleep. I started looking into what further training I could do to make me a better nanny so I completed Level 5 Diploma in Sleep Training for Babies and Young Children.

We were taught everything from Gentle Sleep Methods to Cry- it Out as well as what to do when children suffer from night terrors, which I now have experience as an overnight nanny of just that.

Now as a Professional Family Organiser, I draw from many theorists such as Montessori, Steiner, Froebel and MacMillan but I teach parents, nannies and nursery practitioners to draw on from what makes most sense for your family or that particular setting. I feel the same way about Gina Ford. She has some great advice on routines as they are absolutely key. I can understand why sleep deprived parents hang on to a method, even against their judgement if it promises light at the end of the tunnel. Just like Supernanny, Jo Frosts advice on 'the Naughty Step' some things "work" in the moment but can be detrimental to attachment, positive well-being and understanding.

Sleep training, on the other hand, can support parents and children to get a great nights sleep. Jo Frost recommended the 'bath, book, bed' mantra and what is happening here is signalling. Babies and young children have no concept of time so routines help support a healthy, easier bedtime. Understanding sleep regressions and learning the babies cues of tiredness then having knowledge of sleep supportive habits can help.

Lavender at bath time supports sleep, as does calming music to make it an all sensory experience. Choosing lights that are lower in tone instead of blues and whites, which wake the brain up and even changing the level and tone of your voice.

Avoiding sugary treats before bed and replacing those with tryptophan such as bananas, spinach, poultry, fish and dairy as well as some seeds and nuts can also aid sleep.

The most important thing when it comes to sleep is creating a safe space by following the 'feet to foot' position on their back with no covers (swaddle or use a sleep sack) or cot cushions, with their head uncovered on a firm mattress. Keeping the room to a temperature of 16 to 20 degrees will ensure they do not get too hot or too cold.

These tips, as well as reducing liquid intake before bed and avoiding screentime in the evening also work on older children as well as adults.

I organise rooms and routines with children in mind and support families to make life easier while having child development at the heart of what I do. If you need support with sleep routines, organising their bedrooms or any other room or routine, book a free fifteen minute consultation.

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