Every parent knows that babies love patterns. They thrive on structure and struggle when there is none in place.
This is why bedtime routines are so important. When they are in place, they will go a long way to help you nurture good sleeping habits.
Bedtime routines are simple things, made up of all the activities that you do with your child as you get them ready for bed and until they fall asleep. However, they can play a big role in helping your child transition to good sleeping habits that are essential fo their healthy growth and development.
With these tips, you will be able to successfully create an effective bedtime routine for your little one.
Why should your baby have a bedtime routine?
Here are the main reasons why you should consider creating a bedtime routine for your baby:
- Children are calmer when they stay in a predictable environment. When your baby is relaxed, it is easier for her to fall asleep.
- Your baby's bedtime routine can be used as a special time for you and your baby to connect. Plus, it can also help to get your mind off of other things that could be on your mind.
- At around 4 weeks, most babies begin to experience colic, which could cause a change to their sleeping pattern. Creating a bedtime routine will help your little one transition into normal childhood more easily.
When should you introduce a bedtime routine for your baby?
You won’t need a bedtime routine for a newborn. They can sleep through most of the day pretty easily. However, this starts to change as they grow, and they start having a tougher time staying asleep for several hours.
The best time to introduce one would be when they are 2-3 months old. By this age, your baby will have started learning how to tell day from night.
Additionally, your baby’s age will also come in handy when coming up with a routine. This is why a 6-month old baby will need a shorter routine than a toddler.
Also, if you notice that your baby has started getting used to sleeping aids, you may need to introduce a bedtime routine. Sleeping aids are the things that your baby depends on to fall asleep, such as pacifiers, breastfeeding, or being carried around until they sleep. A bedtime routine will help them become less dependent on sleep aids and with time, they won’t need them at all.
How to create a good bedtime routine
1. Start early
The bedtime routine will be easier to adapt if you introduce it to your child at a young age. It is way better than trying to change the poor sleeping patterns of a toddler.
This principle also applies when starting the actual routine. Your baby's bedtime should be between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm. Starting late will tire out your little one and make them frustrated and fussy.
2. Be consistent
To make it a routine, you have to be consistent in both the activities in the routine, their order, and the timing. If you keep this up, your baby's brain will eventually start sending signals that welcome sleep to the rest of the body.
3. Use a security object
A teddy bear or a blanket can help to keep your child calm. They can make a great addition to a toddler’s routine. Just keep in mind that some items can be unsafe to have in cribs with infants, so be careful about what you use.
4. Keep it short
An effective bedtime routine can last for around 15 minutes. It could go longer if a bath is included. Sometimes, your child may try to stretch out the routine by asking for longer baths or to use the bathroom. You can indulge them for a little while, but always be sure to stick to the original routine.
5. Offer options
As you go about your routine, it won’t hurt anyone to let your child have a choice in some things. For example, while she can’t have control over the bedtime, you can let her choose what set of pajamas to wear or which books to read. If you have a toddler and an infant, you can let your older child make some choices that affect both their routines so they can feel included.
What activities can you include in your bedtime routine?
You can have a short playtime session with your baby, which is great for helping her release some energy before starting the actual routine. Let her dance a bit or run around. Just be sure to put an end to playtime about 40 minutes before you start the bedtime routine or she'll be too excited to sleep.
- Bath time
A warm bath can ease your baby into a calm and relaxing mood. You can incorporate fragrances like lavender and chamomile that can soothe your baby. Just keep in mind that if your baby is only a few weeks old, you don't have to bath them every day.
If your baby gets excited or doesn’t enjoy baths, consider keeping this out of the routine and instead bath her earlier in the day.
Giving your infant a gentle massage can help reduce constipation, teething pain, and colic. It can also help to get rid of any excess energy your baby might have and she won't resist bedtime.
After bathing your little one and putting a fresh diaper on, gently massage her with calming oils or creams. It is the perfect way to bond with her.
- Read a bedtime story
There are no rules as to when you should start reading to your little one. Reading to your baby will let her enjoy the sound of your voice. It will also help your little one to build upon her language skills by learning some new words.
Read to your baby in a calm and soft voice and keep away from books that will excite your baby, like ones with lights and music.
- Feeding time
Give your baby a supplementary feeding to make sure she’s full enough to sleep through the night. During this time, keep the lights dim to make sure that she doesn't fall asleep during feeding. Once you are through, make sure to burp her to prevent stomach upsets in the night.
- Play some music
As you settle your baby into the crib, you can play some soft tunes, classical music, or lullabies. Music will help her fall asleep easier while canceling out other noises in the house. Alternatively, you can opt to play some white noise, which has been shown to help calm babies.
At the end of the day, even if you do everything right, it may still take some time for your baby to embrace the routine. If you are lucky, your baby will get on boars within just a few weeks. Other babies will need several weeks.
However, the bottom line is consistency. With consistency, you will see a clear change in their sleeping patterns, and your little one might even start sleeping through the night!