Putting your little one down and hearing them babble and chatter themselves to sleep at bedtime is magical – it really can make you feel like you are nailing parenting. Hearing your little one cry at bedtime, however, is horrible – and can make you feel like the worst parent ever and even bring on anxiety and stress.
Babies are non-verbal, so their only way to communicate to you that something is wrong, or that they are not happy, is to cry. Crying can be your baby’s way of letting you know that they are hungry, wet, cold, in pain, over stimulated, over tired… the list is endless and can leave parents tearing their hair out in a bid to solve the problem.
By following a good bedtime routine you will have done your best to ensure your little one’s needs are met. They will have been washed and fed and will be dry, clean, and cosy. So, any tears at this point could well be down to being overtired. It is completely normal for some little ones to have a shout and a cry for around 5-10 minutes when they first get into their bed. We refer to this as ‘decompression’, the time whereby they get rid of that last little bit of energy and get ready to relax.
However, babies that are overtired when they go to bed can protest for a lot longer due to the excess level of adrenalin that their system has built up in a bid to keep them awake longer than they can deal with. Anything more than 15 minutes signifies that they are struggling with something and it may be worth experimenting with their awake windows during the day to ensure they are not going down to bed over, or indeed under, tired.
Of course, there can be lots of reasons for tears at bedtime, but in our experience – making a few tweaks to the time in which they go to bed, as well as looking at their awake windows during the day, can make all the difference.
If you’re concerned about your little one’s protest levels at bedtime then please do get in touch – we would love to help to unpick what may be going on and help you all get more sleep.