We met the Umeh family in our Croydon store and knew immediately that we wanted to get to know them better! We featured the family of 4 in our Spring TV adverts, and mum Jade has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to helping her sons get a good night’s sleep. We asked her a few questions about how she and husband Hils established good sleep habits for the boys, and themselves!
Hi Jade and Hils! Thank you for taking the time to share your family’s sleep routine. We love helping everyone get a great night’s sleep, so we’d like to know more about what works for your boys and yourselves.
“Sleep is something that me and Hils put a lot of time into for both children and something we’re really proud of, so its my pleasure to share our experience with you!”
Elijah’s bedtime, aged 3
What is Elijah’s bedtime routine? How does this help him get a good night’s sleep?
“Hils and I are very routine-led and have been from the moment Illy (Elijah) was born. From day dot, its been a bath every night, mini massage, pajamas on (with Cbeebies bedtime hour on in the background to slow the pace down and create calm). We have then always read a story or two and then sung him a song before lights out.
We moved Illy into his own room at 9 weeks old because he was such a long baby and outgrew his bassinette. We also found that we were waking him when he was in our room. Like with every parenting decision we have made, we approached him moving into his own room with an open mind, keeping in mind that if he wasn’t ready for it, we would move him back and try again in due course.
To our delight it worked, he had more room and could settle much easier and has slept through the night from 4 months. Having this rigid routine each night definitely trained him to sleep well.
We have also always made it very clear to Illy that when we go upstairs to start the bedtime routine (from 6pm), we don’t go downstairs – we did this because we wanted him to always associate upstairs with sleeping and bedtime.”
Tell us about Elijah’s bath time, do you have any tips for creating a routine for little ones?
“Elijah is at nursery 5 full days a week so of an evening I like to give him some time for himself and some down time. At almost 3, his down time is having a bit of independent play time with his cars and trains and also watching a couple of short shows on Disney Life (he loves Cars and Toy Story).
Now that he’s a little older we allow him to watch an episode of something on the ipad whilst in the bath playing with his toys. Having this down time really does calm him down before bed. He has a bath every night as he always has done. When we have less time he has a shower and loves this just as much. As long as he has his bath cars he’s happy!
It’s never too early to start a routine in my opinion, we started routine with both children from a young age, so much so, that they’re both children of routine and know exactly what to do and when. For us, we are very routine led and so to introduce our kids to this structure when it matters, was paramount. Perseverance is key! Try and try again, because eventually you WILL succeed and it WILL work. Routine for us has meant that both our boys have slept through the night from around 4/5 months.”
Spring is on the way, how will you help Elijah get to sleep at his usual bedtime when the nights get lighter?
“Keep everything the same as usual in terms of routine- even when the nights get lighter, he still has just as busy a day at nursery which always tires him out. We also have really good blackout blinds from Dunelm!”
Tell us about how Elijah’s special ‘Rocket Room’ came to exist.
“When we knew we were expecting our second baby, we made it our mission to make Illy feel even more special than usual. We made sure we included him in all conversations about his new brother and it was really important to us to find out the sex and decide on a name early on so that for Illy, his brother had an identity and he had time to get used to the fact that another baby was on the way.
We knew before getting pregnant, that Illy was almost ready to move to a bigger room and a big boy bed. His new room was going to be the spare room which is where we got him ready for bed every night, so he was already really familiar with that room.
At the time, after nursery most days he always asked to watch the NASA youtube channel as he got so excited watching rockets take off- that’s where the idea came from to go with a rocket themed room. It was when I was browsing on the Dunelm website that I came across the rocket collection under the ‘customers also viewed these items’ section. This is where the idea was born. I bought the curtains, light fitting and bedding set and built the rest of the room around these items.
Once the room was created, we made sure to emphasise to him that this was HIS special room and now that he was going to become a big brother, he could move into a big boy room and big boy bed and his baby brother could use his old room and bed. He hasn’t looked back since moving into that room and his new bed. The rocket room helped us ALL transition to this next chapter.”
In what ways do you think the Rocket theme has impacted on Elijah’s relationship with bed time and sleep?
“He can’t wait to go up to his room and have a little play before his bath and bed. It’s something to call his own, his little room of joy!”
Ezra’s bedtime, aged 7 months
Have you ever used a music as part of baby Ezra’s routine?
“With both boys we have always sent them to sleep (when babies) with their cot mobile music and also a nursery rhyme lullaby playlist on YouTube. Again, we have always stuck to these two things and persevered with them. Consistency is key!”
We know how important it is to maintain a comfortable temperature for little ones’ rooms. How do you keep an eye on the temperature of Ezra’s bedroom, and how do you keep him at the right temperature during the night?
“We have always used a Gro Egg for both boys and Ezra wears a sleeping bag with an extra blanket in winter. For comfort, and like his brother did, he sleeps on a soft fleece blanket in winter for comfort. We always check the kids part way through the night and before we go to bed. We have never and would never put their bed or cot next to a radiator.”
Do Ezra or Elijah have a night light in their bedroom?
“The only light they have comes from their Gro Eggs. They both don’t mind the dark which is definitely handy!”
How did you pick the mattresses for both boys’ bedrooms?
“Mattresses are so important! Illy has a kids’ memory foam mattress and Ezra has Illy’s old one which was a premium cot mattress. We bought both in store where we could see and feel the mattresses for ourselves.”
Is mattress protection important to you?
“We have a mattress protector for Illy’s bed, but not Ezras cot bed. We decided to buy one to protect it for if he ever wet the bed. It’s really come in handy!”
Do you use cot bumpers? How do you feel about them?
“We use them for Ezra – they are handy if used in a safe way. We always make sure they are intertwined in the bars of the cot so that he can’t pull them off.”
Mum & Dad’s room & routine
Your bedroom has a calm, relaxed feel – was this a key factor when you you decided on the decor?
“Yes this was always top of our agenda to create an oasis of calm to relax in evening – a room where you are most at ease, most relaxed and most calm and that is the style and feel we have created. We wanted to have a space to look forward to escaping to at the end of a busy day and I think we succeeded!”
How do you use lighting in your bedroom?
“We use various lamps in each room to set the mood and create a calming environment. For me, why put such effort into create the most beautiful room, not to light it in the same way? The big light is too bright to create a calm atmosphere and cheapens a room. I don’t think a big light makes the most of a room.”
Do you have a bedtime routine to help you get a good night’s sleep?
“No TV in the bedroom, and I always wear an eye mask, put hand and foot cream on and lip balm.”
Any other tips for us?
“The only thing I’d say with the kids’ sleep is that I truly believe our perseverance and structure with routine has been to key to having two great sleepers – owning the routine, believing in it and having confidence in it is key. Me and Hils singing from the same hymn sheet has also been paramount for this to be successful!”