A good bedtime routine is essential for babies, and for you. We are all creatures of habit (that’s human nature) and we function well when we know what’s coming next. For babies, having a good routine helps to establish good sleeping habits and promotes longer and better sleep. So it stands to reason that a good bedtime routine could be the key to more sleep for you. And you want that, right? Read on for some tips on how to calm the storm in your home…
Your baby is never too young to start getting used to the pattern of every day life. Routines need to be flexible here though, because newborn babies are changing and developing at such a fast pace. A good routine at bedtime for very young babies helps to regulate their systems and helps you to keep order too. Your days may seem chaotic, filled with feeds, dirty nappies and visitors, but your evenings can be a lot calmer if you make them.
Establish Good Habits
View bedtime as the most important time of the day. A chance to unwind. To relax. Even very small babies benefit from this and there is no reason at all why older kids can’t fit in easily with a new routine too. What you put into your routine is up to you, but there are a few golden rules you should consider:
- Keep the same order of events. Whether you do bath, story, feed, bed, or feed, bath, song, bed, it doesn’t matter. As long as you stick to this order each night.
- Keep voices low and the atmosphere calm. It’s relax time.
- Make sure that all care givers are aware of your routine if ever you are away from the home at bedtime.
- Dim the lights, as this will help very young babies to determine the difference between day and night
Yes, it’s important to stick to the same order of events every night, but that doesn’t mean that you HAVE to stop what you’re doing at precisely 7pm to pop baby in the bath because that’s what your routine dictates. Don’t let your routine dictate to you. Let it guide you. If you’re running late for whatever reason, don’t stress. Start your routine when you can, making sure that you stick to the correct order of events so that baby knows what to expect.
Elements That Make Up a Bedtime Routine
You might want to include all of these in your own routine, or you might want to skip some, depending on baby’s age and temperament.
- Generally speaking, you don’t need to bathe baby every day when they are really young, but lots of families still do as it’s a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the day. Keep it low key and relaxing and make sure you supervise at all times.
- This is such a lovely way to bond with baby and to really unwind at the end of the day. Read my guide to getting started here.
- Let off some steam. Older babies may need this more than younger ones! Let your little one have a crazy time splashing in the bath to release some energy, but make sure you follow this up with a relaxing activity to allow them to wind down ready for bed.
- Brush teeth. Even very young babies need to get into the habit of good oral hygiene so invest in some baby brushes and make this a part of your routine.
- Say goodnight. Lots of babies like to say goodnight to the same people in the same order each night, and as they grow older this could extend to toys and teddies too!
- Read a story. Another wonderful way to unwind at the end of the day. Read my guide to the importance of the bedtime story here.
- Sing a lullaby. Singing to your baby has been proven to improve communication between parent and child, and its another lovely way to bond and to unwind at the end of the day.
Make Sure the Routine Works for the Whole Family
It doesn’t matter if you put your baby to bed at 7pm or 11pm. If it works for you and your family, go with it. Find a bedtime that suits you all and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Take some or all of the elements above and combine them in a way that works for you.
Falling asleep depends on body chemistry, and the things that we do in the lead up to bedtime helps to trigger sleep cues, thus leading to a better night’s sleep. This is why a good bedtime routine is so essential!
Rebecca Michi is a Children’s Sleep Consultant, who prides herself on becoming the youngest Childcare Manager in the United Kingdom for a national childcare chain by the age of 23. Since then, she has worked in a number of different childcare settings with children between the ages of 6 weeks and 8 years old, quickly advancing from Nursery Nurse to Officer in Charge (Manager).
Rebecca attended East Berkshire College, England, UK where she received the National Nursery Examining Board (the qualification has since been renamed CACHE level 3), one of the most recognizable Childcare qualifications in the world. These qualifications provide students with an exceptional level of hands-on experience in addition to a strong academic curriculum that covers the physical, educational, social, emotional and intellectual needs of different ages. Her other areas of study include health and hygiene, play, and First Aid.
Rebecca grew up in The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, England, UK. She stopped working in a childcare setting in 2001 when her husband’s job took them to Brazil for four years. Matteo and Rebecca celebrated the birth of their two daughters whilst living in Brazil. Since leaving Brazil, their family has lived in Europe and the United States, eventually settling in Seattle.