We love our little ones dearly, but sometimes, a good night’s sleep is what we need most. For new parents, sleeping regular hours can almost be a foreign concept.
Alas, some things can be done to help both parent and baby get a good night’s sleep. One of the most important things is to establish a baby bedtime routine, complete with a bath and some comfy baby clothing.
But what even is a baby bedtime routine, and how do you go about setting one up? Parents, this one’s for you!
What is a baby bedtime routine?
While the specifics may vary from family to family, a baby bedtime routine generally consists of key activities that take place in the lead-up to sleep. These activities might include bathing, putting on clean pajamas, reading a book, and saying goodnight to loved ones.
The idea behind a baby bedtime routine is that it helps to cue your baby’s brain that it is time to sleep. This can help promote better sleep habits and quality of sleep.
Why is it important to have a baby bedtime routine?
There are a few reasons why having a baby bedtime routine can be beneficial. For starters, it can help your baby to wind down and prepare for sleep. This can lead to better sleep habits and improved sleep quality.
Remember that babies are creatures of habit. So, the more you can stick to a routine, the better. This might mean going to bed at the same time each night and following the same sequence of activities leading up to sleep.
A baby bedtime routine can also be a great opportunity for you to bond with your little one. This special time can be used to cuddle, read together, or just chat before bed.
How to establish a baby bedtime routine: steps
1. Start with a bath.
A warm bath can be a great way to start the bedtime routine. Not only will it help your baby relax, but it can also be an opportunity for you to bond and have quality one-on-one time.
To bathe your baby, fill up the tub with a few inches of warm water. You can then undress your baby and gently lower them into the water. Use mild, unscented baby soap to clean their skin and hair.
Once they’re clean, lift your baby out of the tub and wrap them in a soft towel. You can then proceed to the next step.
2. Get into some comfy clothes.
After their bath, it’s time to get your baby into their pajamas. Choose baby clothes that are comfortable and breathable to help your little one sleep soundly through the night.
Opt for light and airy clothing such as a onesie or cotton PJs if you’re dressing your baby for bed during the warmer months. In cooler weather, you might want to dress them in a footed sleeper or sleep sack to keep them cozy and warm.
3. Feed your baby.
Next, it’s time for another baby feeding if your baby is still young, around 4 to 6 months old. Night feedings are important for young babies as they help them to grow and develop. A good rule of thumb is to feed your baby whenever they show signs of hunger, such as rooting or sucking on their fist.
But if your baby is a bit older, you might consider skipping the feeding and offering a small cup of water before bedtime. This can help to prevent nighttime waking due to thirst.
4. Read a book.
After their feeding, it’s time for some quality bonding time. A great way to do this is by reading a bedtime story together. Choose a book that’s short and sweet with simple illustrations. This will help to hold your baby’s attention and won’t overstimulate them before sleep.
To make the experience even more special, try using different voices for the different characters in the book. This will help to keep your baby engaged and entertained.
5. Give some cuddles.
Once you’ve read your bedtime story, it’s time for some snuggles. This is a great opportunity to bond with your baby and give them some quality physical affection.
Try rocking your baby in your arms or gently rubbing their back until they’re calm and relaxed. You can then place them in their crib or bassinet and say goodnight.
Cuddling your baby is also a great way to soothe them if they feel fussy or overwhelmed.
6. Put them down drowsy but awake.
Now, this is a critical step in the bedtime routine – putting your baby down drowsy but awake. This means that your baby should be sleepy but still able to fall asleep independently.
If you put your baby down when they’re already fast asleep, they might wake up later in the night and have trouble falling back asleep. But if you put them down when they’re wide awake, they’ll likely cry and fuss until they finally drift off.
To know if your baby is sleepy enough to be put down, look for signs such as yawning or rubbing their eyes. You can gently lay them in their crib or bassinet and say goodnight.
7. Stick to the routine.
The key to making a bedtime routine work is consistency. Stick to the same order of activities each night so that your baby knows what to expect. This will help them to relax and feel comfortable as they drift off to sleep.
Bedtime routines usually take around 30 minutes to an hour to complete. So make sure you set aside enough time in your evening to get everything done.
8. Be patient.
Finally, remember to be patient as you’re establishing a bedtime routine with your baby. It might take some time for them to get used to the new routine and fall asleep easily. After all, it’s a big change from their usual awake hours.
But if you’re consistent with the routine and offer plenty of love and support, your baby will soon get the hang of it and sleep through the night in no time.
Baby Bedtime Routine: Extra Tips
Tip 1: Keep it short and sweet.
Your baby’s bedtime routine doesn’t need to be long or complicated. In fact, it’s best to keep it fairly short and simple. This will help your baby wind down and get ready for sleep without overstimulating.
Tip 2: Play some calming music.
It’s been shown that music can help to relax and calm babies (and adults!). So, consider playing some soft, soothing music during your baby’s bedtime routine.
You can even sing a lullaby to your little one as you rock them before bed. This will help create a peaceful and calming environment conducive to sleep.
Tip 3: Use a nightlight.
Consider using a nightlight to create a calming atmosphere in your baby’s bedroom. This will help provide gentle light without being too bright or stimulating.
You can also try using a white noise machine to help soothe your baby and block out any outside noise. These can be particularly helpful if your baby is sensitive to sound or has trouble sleeping in a quiet environment.
Establishing a baby bedtime routine can take some time and effort. But it’s worth it in the long run, as it can help your baby to sleep better and develop healthy sleep habits. So, stick with it and enjoy this special time with your little one.