Author Topic: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down  (Read 803 times)

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Offline annesmama

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Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« on: June 07, 2017, 17:09:29 pm »
I love the stickied thread with ideas for activities, but I'm wondering which activities are good for the stretch before bedtime?  We're really struggling with BT, wondering if it's OS. She's pretty spirited.

Activities she typically does:

1. Lie on blanket and wiggle as babies do. She usually rolls onto her tummy until she tires herself out and starts clamoring for help.  (But she JUST rolled tummy-to-back for the first time, so maybe she'll stop doing that soon...)

=> Is rolling too stimulating? Should we be trying to keep her more still?

2. Lie on blanket and play with a mirror (along one side of the blanket) or toys hung from an IKEA activity gym

=> The IKEA gym isn't super colorful and only a couple of toys are hanging from it, but is that still too much?

3. Read books on mommy or daddy's lap

=> We try to do the ones with soft pastel pictures (like Guess How Much I Love You), but she does seem to get really excited about books and I'm wondering if it's too much.  Maybe would it be better to read to her without any pictures?

What are less stimulating things we could do?  Would sitting on the back step blowing bubbles be too much?  Going for a walk?  Are activity songs (like Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes) stimulating?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 17:16:51 pm by annesmama »

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 18:04:20 pm »
My DS was/is not spirited but was very alert. To be honest all of the activities you've listed sound very stimulating to me.  My DS would have been very stimulated by them and they are all things we would do earlier in the day (early in A time) rather than right before BT.  My DS didn't even have BT stories until he was about (oh hard to remember properly right now, I'd need longer to think) erm, let's say 5 years old.  He started reading before he turned 3yo so it's not like he was starved of books, he had plenty, hundreds, but not just before sleep.
Things I would suggest would be:
- sitting on your back step but just sitting, maybe quietly chatting, maybe just looking at what is out there and listening to the birds
- cuddling and perhaps looking out the window
- one single low stimulation toy which doesn't make noises or reflect light
- massage if your baby likes it
- calming lullaby type songs rather than heads shoulders knees and toes (although that too can be slowed and turned into a calmer version)


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 19:59:43 pm »
Ooooh, oops! Will give it a try. I feel like she gets bored of sitting quickly during the day, but maybe it'll be different in the evening.

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 20:24:12 pm »
I feel like she gets bored of sitting quickly during the day,
Yes, sounds like mine. He liked to play right up to nap time and have a very short wind down before naps, usually it was as short as a nappy change, into the bed room and one song then put down and walk out.  If I tried to do a 20 min wind down he would get really agitated like I'd cheated him out of his stimulation, learning and play, he was SO interested in learning and experiencing things.  In the evening though, quite different.

Do you have a sleep thread open for the problems you are having at BT?  It could be that a routine tweak could help as well as considering the level of stimulation.


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2017, 03:21:54 am »
Yep, here it is: https://babywhispererforums.com/index.php?topic=286558.0

TLDR: Routine tweaks have helped us a lot with getting her to go down quickly at nap time -- I used to feel like I spent as long getting her to sleep as she spent actually sleeping, but it's much better now.  Shush-pat actually works sometimes.  She still needs me to hold her through transitions most of the time.  Bedtime is getting better (as in, she goes to sleep before 10pm usually now) but night sleep is getting worse (as in, she used to wake only 2-3 times a night and now it's... more than that).  Some of these issues are probably developmental and some are probably because she's rolling so we had to cut swaddle cold turkey a couple weeks ago.

We're trying less stimulation in the evenings, haven't noticed a difference yet, but we'll keep trying.

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2017, 08:30:33 am »
OK I see you're getting great support from bec on your sleep thread so I won't jump in there.
A reminder though that after a CN in the evening there isn't much time for anything. The CN is really just to tide them over to get through the BT routine so really once they wake from that short (not restorative) nap they may need a shorter A time before S and it is often only enough time to feed, wash, change and feed again then put down to sleep. All the activities listed are probably better for earlier in the day rather than in that final A time when most of it is taken up with feeding and washing/changing.


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2017, 23:12:26 pm »
Huh... really?  She doesn't seem tired at all after the CN.  We've never managed to get her to go to sleep (properly) before 1.5hrs, sometimes more like 2 or 3 hours after the CN.  She just... won't go to sleep.  We do try putting her down before then, but even if we do get her to fall asleep, she won't STAY asleep.  So we sit with her for a bit, then try again... repeat, repeat until finally it sticks.  That's why I was thinking maybe the reason was OS.  But for the past few days we've been spending that last A time just holding her and doing nothing, and it's almost worse... when she was doing stuff, she'd have a meltdown eventually and go to sleep, but doing nothing she just stays awake... and awake...

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2017, 09:08:34 am »
It could be that she is getting close to dropping the CN. Often at this age the A times are longer and the CN is dropped.  I see from your sleep thread she is napping better on the shorter A times but this requires a CN there to get through the day...and the CN can then make BT more difficult.  Once the A times are longer and the CN can be dropped you may see a more regular A time before bed.  She could also just not be looking tired and not showing cues.  A strong WD routine at BT at a similar time every night and with the same routine every night can give great signals for sleep so even if she's just quiet I'd go ahead and do your routine rather than waiting for her to show she is tired.
In terms of activities I don't think there would be any/many people in the community who would suggest any higher level of stimulation prior to BT. Not at this age. As LOs get older and the A time is much longer then there is a length of time at the beginning of the A time for activity (often dinner takes up much of this time) and a length of time towards the end of A time which is used for the regular and consistent WD to bed (such as bath, massage, nappy, pjs, feed, brush teeth, song, shush/pat).  For younger babies though that last A time is still pretty short, even if it's 2hrs there isn't much time for play when feeding takes 20-40 mins and there are two of them to fit in, plus bathing/washing, brushing teeth, changing...


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2017, 02:03:47 am »
OK, wait, wait, so after the CN, I'm supposed to do 2 feeds in the hour before BT?  I wonder if she will eat the second time...

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2017, 12:23:54 pm »
Well it's not exactly two feeds in the space of an hour.
A 4 month old guidance A times are 1hr 45 to 2hrs, and depending on the individual routine a LO might not be ready to eat directly after the CN or might eat twice (with one of those feeds coming at less than the 3 or 4hrs of their routine because you have now reached BT).  Whether they eat directly after the CN or not though there is a need always to give a BT feed and often LOs know it is BT so really even if it WAS only 1hr of A time some LOs will happily take a second feed as they kind of know they are tanking up ready for the longer night stretch (even if they also get a DF or NF).
You can't force your LO to eat if she isn't hungry and doesn't want to take a feed but certainly I'd be offering - some people call this a split feed because the feed after the CN isn't really due yet (maybe it's only been 2hrs since last E) but LO needs some food to be able to get through bath time so they do half before and the rest after which is basically BT by then.


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 00:09:56 am »
Ack, sorry, I'm getting so confused.  I *should* expect a full A time (or maybe just slightly shorter) after the CN?  So in our case, around 1h30m?  That would make sense because I can never get her to go to sleep within 1.5 hours of that last nap even when I start trying earlier.

But... the math is off for us because she's such a quick eater. Feeds take 10-20 minutes, and I expect one or the other would be on the short side, so say 30 mins for feeds.  And we can't do much for a BT routine -- most of the standard items are either stimulating or don't apply to a 4-month-old.  I definitely think baths are too stimulating to do at BT for her... she doesn't mind the bath itself so much, but coming out is always an ordeal.  We basically just do diaper, jammies, sing a song, but that only takes, what, 10 minutes?  (Side note: we don't do much for a pre-nap routine either - she's always cranky and doesn't want to do much but go to sleep.)

So I guess I still have a good 40 minutes to fill... I can't spend it all just sitting and holding her... I mean, I could, but...  in that last A time, she tends to be *fussy* even if she's not tired enough to sleep -- for example, she'll sit quietly for a while, then fuss; sit quietly for a book or two, then fuss; quiet for a stroll around the house, then fuss, etc.  I guess I should go take that infant massage class.

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 08:34:03 am »
Have you tried the bath much earlier in that last A time? Fussiness at bath time can certainly be because she's enjoying it and wants longer (so earlier is good as she can have longer to play with the water) but it can also be because LO is really tired and needs to get to bed earlier so they don't have the patience to go through the drying and dressing part without a lot of fuss (so again earlier can be better as she will be less tired in the early part of A time).
FWIW my DS hated baths until he was about 5 months old so it was not part of our BT routine either until then.

You don't have to just sit and hold and do nothing though, there were a few things I responded to your first post about adapting those activities to reduce the level of stimulation for a spirited baby.


Offline annesmama

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Re: Pre-bedtime activities to help 4mo wind down
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2017, 23:28:34 pm »
Haha, I meant more, can't do other things (like dinner! Would eating dinner with LO in my lap be stimulating?). Ah well, LO is worth it.

We'll try doing bathtime earlier in the last A and see how that goes.

Thank you for your help!