Having a bedtime routine is a way of indicating to your baby that nighttime sleep is different from daytime naps; that at nighttime, we should sleep longer. Of course this would be harder to achieve with a newborn, but for infants, it could work! I think babies are much smarter than what we typically give them credit for. I believe that if a good routine is consistently done at around the same time everyday, the baby would eventually understand it and have a sense of when it’s time for an overnight sleep.
Personally, I didn’t start a bedtime routine with my baby until he was about two months old. I thought it was impossible to have a bedtime routine prior to that because he was sleeping anytime he wanted and for short stretches only.
Now I’m extremely fortunate that my baby sleeps really well. I know a lot of parents struggle with getting their babies to sleep at night and to self-soothe in spite of all the sleep training methods out there. Here is a sample baby bedtime routine that you may implement to see if it could help you get your baby to sleep for longer stretches at night. It definitely worked for my baby!
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1) Start with a bath.
The frequency is up to you and what works best for your baby. Some mamas give their babies a full bath every night as it helps sooth their babies. Otherwise, I think two to three times should be enough. It helps to use a baby bathtub so you don’t risk injuring your precious little baby. On non-full bath days, a quick sponge bath would help — just lay your baby flat on his/her change table and wipe him down with a damp washcloth.
2) Put a fresh diaper on.
If using disposable diapers, overnight diapers are useful starting at around month 3 depending on your baby’s size. Overnight diapers are a game-changer — big thanks to my sister-in-law for introducing me to these. Huggies Overnites — which starts at size 3 — is a good choice.
3) Apply baby lotion and give baby a quick massage while playing soothing music.
Babies love getting massages. I mean, who doesn’t love a good massage? If you are into scented baby lotion, this Calming Lavender Baby Lotion from Earth Mama Organics is a great choice. It contains a combination of pure organic vanilla and lavender which makes for a sweet and calming scent.
4) Dress baby up for the night.
Now this is key because it either sets baby up for a comfortable night sleep or not. When dressing your baby up for the night, consider the temperature of your house and the “one extra layer rule.” This rule of thumb suggests that babies need one extra layer of clothing than you wear in order to feel comfortable in the same environment.
In my case, we keep our house at about 21-22 degrees Celsius. In the winter time, I would dress my baby up in a short-sleeve onesie, a footed sleeper, and a swaddle blanket. Then as we transitioned into the summer, I would dress him up with either a long-sleeved onesie or a footed sleeper and then put him in a sleep sack or wearable blanket by Halo. These are made of 100% cotton material and keeps my baby cozy without risk of overheating.
5) Read a book.
Read to your baby even if he/she is not super interested yet or loses interest quickly. You don’t have to start with a story book. A good start could be high-contrast books that are recommended for newborns and infants to develop their eyesight.
6) Nurse or feed baby his/her bedtime bottle.
Dim the lights, sit comfortably such as on a rocking chair, and nurse or give baby his/her bedtime bottle. I also like to say a little prayer to keep my little one safe throughout the night. At this point, it’s definitely important to have an environment that does not encourage too much stimulation so baby stays calm and ready for an overnight sleep!
Of course, this routine looks a lot more organized on paper. When it comes to babies, we always have to be ready for curve balls. But no matter what, do your best to stick to a bedtime routine every night. I certainly did and my baby now sleeps for 10-12 hours every night and naps 3-4 times per day for at least 30 minutes long. Persistence and consistency is key!
If you’d like to learn more tips on establishing a good bedtime routine, head over to the Baby Manual. Part 2 of this parenting online course has a good and helpful chapter on sleep routine and why it’s important.
What is your bedtime routine with your little one? Leave a reply below or let me know on IG @happymamahappybaby.ca / Twitter: @happymama_blog.