Is there a specific evening routine that you follow? Do you close your laptop at a certain time so that you can wind down before bed? Are there certain rituals that you do to help you feel relaxed?
A routine can help improve your sleep, lessen your anxiety, and can improve your all-round health. It is the same for babies!
Laying the foundation for a healthy sleep schedule with the support of a bedtime routine is important, even with young babies.
While they will wake up more often than older babies because they need to feed every few hours (their bellies are tiny), if doesn’t mean a bedtime routine won’t benefit your little one.
What Does A Bedtime Routine Look Like?
While your relaxation routine might include simply putting your phone away and enjoying a book, your baby’s routine is going to be a bit more intensive and may include some trial and error.
There are certain activities that are recommended to get your baby ready for some shut eye, but it’s important to recognize that every baby is different – your little one may not find some suggestions as calming as others.
Besides giving your baby a warm bath, putting on their comfy PJs, and doing a before-bed diaper change, there are other options that can help them relax.
Swaddling can have an impact on the quality of your baby’s sleep – however, the correct swaddling technique is key. If they are uncomfortable, being in a swaddle won’t be relaxing at all.
Sound can also play a key role in a bedtime routine. Making sure things like TVs, computers, and phones are turned down goes a long way in making sure your baby is in a calming environment.
An amazing product to help create an optimal environment for a bedtime routine is a sound machine.
Giving your baby a massage and singing a lullaby are other calming ways to help them let go of the day.
Here are three things to consider when developing a bedtime routine for your baby:
- Become Familiar With Your Baby’s Natural Rhythms
Take note of when your baby becomes cranky, when they’re fully awake and active, and when they naturally want to drift off to dreamland. Once you have this down as a base, you can create an optimal routine that will work for your baby.
When it comes to their active awake times, What To Expect explains that the age of your baby matters, “Newborns are only truly awake and alert for about three minutes of every hour, 1-month-olds for about an hour at a time and 3-month-olds for up to two hours at a stretch. And remember, all babies are different.”
Have a certain time when you start helping your baby wind down – so, nothing too stimulating during their wake time before bed.
To make sure you don’t have an overly tired, cranky baby or a wide awake little one who wants to continue playing, keep distractions to a minimum and plan out their day naps so that they’re not too close to bed time and not too far apart.
- Consistency Is Key
As with any routine, you’ve got to stick to it. Once you’ve found what your baby responds well to, come back to this routine every night so that they get used to calming down at the end of the day and recognizing that a massage and a lullaby, for example, are signals for bedtime.
As Annie Baby Monitor points out, “It is crucial that you repeat these action steps in the same order, every evening at the same time. This way your baby will associate them with going to sleep. After practicing the routine for some time, you should notice that your little one starts to be drowsy even before you finish.”
However, it’s also important to give yourself and your baby some grace – your routine isn’t going to go swimmingly every evening.
- Don’t Stress Yourself Out When The Routine Doesn’t Go According To Plan
Life happens. During some evenings, the bedtime routine might go off without a hitch and help your baby get a full night’s sleep. On other days, your baby might be fussy and nothing you do will seem to help them calm down and drift off.
First, don’t be hard on yourself! Second, your baby might just be looking for something outside their routine – perhaps an extra cuddle or a few more minutes with a bottle.
Remember, as your baby grows and changes, so will their bedtime routine. It’s okay to be flexible and allow space for adjustments according to what your baby needs.
Sometimes your baby needs soothing, and sometimes you need to take a step back and soothe yourself!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few moments for yourself (obviously, first make sure your baby is safe before leaving the room). When you’re calm, it helps your little one relax.
If you’d like some extra tips on creating your baby’s routine, download my suggested schedule that covers two to six weeks. This is taken from my course, Babies Made Simple, a guide on navigating feedings, sleep, and much more.