How to Create a Bedtime Routine for your Baby
Much like their parents, babies need a familiar bedtime routine to help them drift off to the land of nod.
Getting your baby to sleep is the goal of many parents, and introducing a relaxing bedtime routine can be a great step towards doing so.
There are a number of ways you can do this, and it’s important to remember that a bedtime routine isn’t a one size fits all solution: your routine may look different to that of another parent, and that’s absolutely fine! With that being said, it can be helpful to know where to begin; and what can help your little one to fall asleep.
Why Create a Bedtime Routine for your Baby
Newborns take weeks to develop their circadian rhythms, and while there are a few ways parents can help them to learn the difference between night and day (take a look at our tips for helping your newborn to sleep better for more advice), it isn’t until they are around 3 months old that a more structured bedtime routine should be introduced.
When you feel ready, having a dedicated bedtime routine can be a great way to relax and bond with your baby, as well as helping them to drift off and begin developing good sleep habits. It’s an opportunity for some one-to-one time with your little bundle of joy, and one you can enjoy to the fullest as they slowly begin to catch some ZZZs.
How to create a bedtime routine for your baby
Every baby is different - which means every bedtime routine may look different too. It is completely up to you how you choose to build your baby’s bedtime routine; here are a few ideas for inspiration on what yours could include:
- Giving them a feed before they go to sleep
- Bathing them (warm water encourages sleep, while using gentle lavender or chamomile bath soaps can encourage relaxation)
- Giving them a soothing, gentle massage
- Singing them a lullaby
- Reading them a bedtime story
- Having a kiss and a cuddle - Close contact is very reassuring and stabilises breathing and heart rate in babies.
There are also more general ways you can make sure that your baby’s night time atmosphere is as calming and soothing as possible, including dimming the lights; keeping noise to a minimum; and avoiding play time before bed.
Consistency is key...
When creating a bedtime routine for your baby, it should be just that: routine! That means aiming to begin at around the same time every evening; carrying out the same soothing activities with your baby; and putting them to sleep in the same comfortable and cosy place - whether that’s a crib, cot or a Moses basket. That’s not to say changes shouldn’t be made, though. If you find something works better for you and your baby, or something needs tweaking, it’s always OK to do so - after all, you know your baby better than anyone.
...as is timing!
Noticing when your baby is beginning to feel sleepy is something which will likely come in time. When you begin to recognise and spot their sleep cues, it’s time to begin their bedtime routine. Once they’re overtired, they may well become over stimulated - and less likely to sleep as a result.
It may also be a good idea to keep a note of when they tend to get sleep every evening, and base the timing of your bedtime routine around this. For example, if you realise your baby begins to drift off at 7:30pm, you could begin your bedtime routine half an hour beforehand.
Differentiate between night and day
A set bedtime routine may be introduced when your little one is around 3 months old, but helping them to differentiate between night and day can begin much sooner.
Making sure that day time naps are different from their night time sleep routine can be a good place to start. During the day, don’t worry too much about being quiet; or turning the lights down while your baby is sleeping. At night, it’s time to avoid games and playtime in favour or dim lights and a calm, quiet environment.
Don’t pressure yourself
Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re doing your best. Looking after a newborn can be overwhelming, and introducing a bedtime routine is highly individual. Don’t put pressure on yourself to start too soon - while a bedtime routine can begin at around two months old, it is absolutely fine to wait until they are a month or so older, and you feel both you and baby are ready.
For newborn inspiration and lovingly made products, you can always trust Clair De Lune for your nursery furniture and baby sleep accessories to help them enjoy a comfortable night.