Supernanny Jo Frost says bedtime is simple - that's no fairytale
The secret to getting a good night's sleep when you're the parents of young children is: Bath, Book, Bed. TV's Jo Frost explains to Lisa Salmon how it's done
Exhausted parents of babies and young children say they'd pay thousands of pounds to end sleepless nights.
But TV nanny Jo Frost insists they don't need to pay a penny to get a decent night's sleep - just stringently adhere to the routine of bath, book, bed with their child.
Frost is supporting the new BookTrust Bath Book Bed campaign to encourage the fundamental bedtime routine, which will help all the family sleep well, encourage a love of reading, and promote the bond between parent and child.
Frost, who found fame in TV's Supernanny, says: "Sleep deprivation is the most common complaint I hear from parents of young children. Tired parents and tired children are a recipe for disaster.
"But the solution doesn't need to be complicated regimes or expensive gizmos. A routine as simple as bath, book, bed can get young children to settle, so everyone can benefit from a good night's sleep."
A survey of a thousand parents with children aged three and under by the reading charity BookTrust found 78% believe lack of sleep is the hardest part of being a new parent, with many claiming they'd pay more than £10,000 to put an end to sleepless nights.
More than half of parents (60%) say they want guidance on having a consistent and successful routine to get their child to sleep at night, which prompted BookTrust to team up with Frost to launch Bath Book Bed.
Frost, who has been a nanny for more than 20 years, says: "Story time is an integral part of a bedtime routine - it strengthens children's vocabulary and literacy skills, and enables them to foster a love of reading.
"Kids need to feel safe and secure when they sleep, and when you spend quality time reading stories to them, you wind yourself down as well as your children, through the love of storytelling.
"It can be tactile too - you play with their hair and rub their back, they turn the pages."
She explains that the safe feeling provided by the routine not only helps children get to sleep, but relaxes them enough to give them a sound night's sleep and helps prevent night waking.
"The routine helps them wind down, and there are fewer interruptions during the night because there's less anxiety, as parents have given them their loving time before they go to sleep, and the child feels settled," explains Frost.
Frost advises parents to read to babies as soon as they're born, because the rhythm, tone and repetition help establish a healthy routine and love for reading straight away.
"Once they've had that from such a young age it becomes an enjoyable part of their life," she says.
"Parents think there's some magic fairy dust that will help kids sleep, and there isn't - what you need is bath, book and bed. Encouraging parents to do it is a big deal."
The research also found that 71% of parents with children aged three and under feel they have a shorter temper when tired and it affects their family life.
Frost says: "You're more irritable because you're exhausted, and you're almost feeling despair. The way to break that is through routine."
She stresses that bedtime shouldn't be about TVs and tablets, pointing out: "It's not the same as having the reassurance and safety, security and comfort of their loved ones around them to nurture and look after them.
"It's my hope that families understand the enormous impact they can make in their children's lives with a few minutes of fun reading each night."
As part of the campaign, BookTrust is encouraging parents to sign-up to '14 Days to Better Sleep' on its website, with tips, videos and support to help them adopt the Bath Book Bed routine.
BookTrust chief executive Diana Gerald adds: "Once you have children, a good night's sleep can sometimes seem like a distant memory.
"But a simple routine of bath, book, bed has been used by parents for generations and we hope that it will help struggling families.
"We can't think of a better preparation for a good night's sleep than a cuddle and a bedtime story."
For more information about Bath Book Bed visit www.bathbookbed.org.uk