A bedtime routine is key to establishing a healthy, predictable sleep pattern. Just like you and I, babies need time to unwind and get their bodies and brains into position to sleep. If you scoop baby out of the middle of a lively game and drop him in the crib, you can’t expect baby to fall right asleep. You’ve got to coax him.
A bedtime routine is also a great time of the day to bond with your baby. If you have a busy schedule and don’t get to spend much time with your child, you’ll relish this part of the day. Here are some tips to establishing a bedtime routine.
1. Newborns don’t need a bedtime routine.
Imposing a sleep schedule on an infant is an exercise in futility. Little ones will sleep when they sleep and it won’t be in long stretches. It will probably be a few weeks before a pattern emerges and a few months before baby completely sleeps all night.
2. Adapt to your baby’s preferences.
If your little guy or gal prefers one method of falling asleep, go with it. Some kids like baths, others don’t. Some don’t enjoy books, others demand six or eight. Some kids just like to lay in bed and “talk” to mom or dad. The idea is to get baby to sleep; the ritual is just the tool. Use whatever tool is available.
3. Perfect the drop-off.
At the end of the routine, when baby is getting drowsy, the goal is to lay them down and leave the room before they fall asleep. The final moments before slumber should happen alone so your baby learns to self-soothe himself to sleep and not to rely on your presence. This way he’ll learn how to put himself back to sleep when he wakes up alone in the middle of the night.
4. Stick to the routine.
The point of the routine is to put your baby into a sleep mindset. When you begin the bedtime activities, her brain will pick up on what’s happening and start to make baby sleepy, even if he wasn’t before. After a few months of the same pattern, you’ll notice your baby’s eyes begin to droop as soon as you start. If you change the routine, baby won’t know how to respond.
5. Burn off some energy.
The first step of a bedtime routine should be to burn off any energy lingering in that little body. Horse around a bit and get baby excited. Dance, give a horsey ride, and give baby some reign of the living room to move around. Once baby seems tired out, move into the quieter parts of the routine.
6. Give a warm bath.
Warm water is soothing, as I’m sure you know. Fifteen minutes in a warm tub and some gentle play is an effective way to calm your baby down and ease him into bed. It’s also a great way to bond one-on-one with your baby, which soothes anxiety and lets your baby relax. If your baby can’t help but get excited during baths or doesn’t enjoy them, leave this part out of the routine.
7. Play quietly.
Play just before bedtime is fine, but avoid running, chasing, roughhousing or anything physical where your baby’s body is geared up. Play something quietly and stationary. Do it in a quiet room without any distractions. If possible, dim the lights.
8. Read a bedtime story.
Bedtime stories are a big part of nighttime rituals because they’re a simple, passive activity that gets baby’s body to settle down and put them in the mood to sleep. Depending on your child’s age, you might read several books, or even the same book several times. This is a great activity to include because the benefits of reading go beyond sleepy-time.
9. Sing or play some music.
Mothers have been singing lullabies to their children forever. Babies love hearing the sound of their parents’ voices, even if you aren’t a great singer. If you don’t enjoy singing, there are plenty of lullabies available on CD or MP3 that you could play. Keep the volume low and don’t play anything with a fast beat. Typically, newborns prefer a bit of noise to sleep anyway.
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Written by Jennifer Cicci of Babee Talk
As a mother, Jennifer understands the importance of offering nothing by the best for baby. Motivated by teeth marks on her children’s cribs, she decided to design a teething rail cover after trying products that didn’t measure up when it came to quality or style. What she found out made her even more concerned about children’s safety and health: The toxic chemicals used in the production of synthetic materials have been linked to birth defects, reproductive disorders, and weakened immune systems.
She asked herself, “What if I could revolutionize the way parents decorated their crib with a safe and stylish teething rail cover that could be placed on the crib from day one?” Babee Talk® launched in 2014 with organic bedding and accessories. Chew-friendly, drool-friendly, and organic inside and out, her products ensure a healthy start in life for babies.
She only offers products that she would provide for her own children. She hopes moms and dads will start to talk about the importance of choosing safe, healthy, eco-friendly products, especially for babies.
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