How to Create the Perfect Baby Bedtime Routine
When people talk about the joys of being a new parent, they usually mention many special moments: watching their little one develop a personality, hearing them talk for the first time, seeing them take their first steps. But there’s one thing that rarely falls under the “joys” category: putting them to bed.
Trying to get a crying, fussy baby to fall asleep can be a real nightmare for parents — not to mention the frustrations that come with midnight wake-ups.
Thankfully, establishing a baby bedtime routine can help take the stress out of the nightly ritual (and help you and your infant sleep better).
Here are our top tips for creating the perfect baby bedtime routine for your kiddo:
Wait until your baby is about six weeks old to start implementing a routine.
When your baby is first born, they’ll spend almost all of their time sleeping. So it doesn’t make sense to start creating a consistent sleep routine. Instead, use this early period to take note of what activities and environments tend to help your baby fall asleep; they’ll be helpful once you start to create their routine later on.
Set your routine around your baby’s natural sleep time.
Once your baby starts sleeping in regular spurts, take note of when they tend to sleep for the longest stretch of time at night. Then, plan your baby bedtime routine around it. The length of your routine will depend on your baby’s temperament and tiredness, and it will likely get longer as your baby ages. We recommend starting with a 30-minute routine and adjusting as needed. That means you’ll want to begin your routine 30 minutes ahead of your baby’s natural sleep time. So, if your baby tends to sleep in their longest time spurt from 8 PM-12 AM, you’ll want to get started at 7:30 PM. If you’re not sure when your baby starts to get sleepy, keep an eye out for natural cues such as rubbing their eyes or yawning.
Aim for consistency.
To help your baby get the most out of their bedtime routine, try to create as much consistency as possible. That starts with ensuring you’re always putting your little one to sleep in their crib (on their back), even for naps. This will not only help them sleep more soundly, but it will also help reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It’s also important to keep the kinds of before-bed activities you do (and the environment you do them in) as consistent as possible. These small queues will help your child understand when it’s time to go to sleep.
Include the right activities.
While bedtime routines are by no means a one-size-fits-all solution, there are a number of activities that can be included such as:
- A warm bath
- A nighttime feeding
- A gentle massage
- Storytime or lullabies
- White noise
The best activities are those your baby responds well to and are easy to regularly fit into your schedule.
Create a relaxing environment.
Before putting your baby to sleep, be sure to turn down the lights to create a darker room. This will help cue your little one that it’s time to go to bed. The decreased amount of stimulation will also help calm and settle them. We recommend turning off any loud or bright devices such as your cell phone or the television. Finally, if your little one sleeps better with a white noise machine or musical mobile, be sure to turn that on.
When it comes to establishing the perfect baby bedtime routine, the most important tip is to be flexible. Chances are you won’t land on the perfect routine right away. Instead, you’ll need to try different variations until you find something that works for both you and your child. Know that as your kid grows, their routine will likely change, and that’s okay, too.
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