Establishing a bedtime routine for your baby is one of the best ways to soothe your baby into independent sleep while also spending some quality time together as a family. Believe it or not, babies enjoy routines because it offers consistency and predictability in a vast world of unknowns. While they may not understand the pattern at first, they will come to realize that, with a bedtime routine, the end of the day is time to wind down, cuddle and drift off to sleep.
Here’s another benefit: bedtime routines help babies learn better sleep and personal hygiene habits. With a bath or a quick face & hand wash, a quiet activity such as a game, song or book, and some snuggly time with mom and dad, you are teaching your baby the value of keeping her body clean and calming her body before sleep. When your child is older and more independent, you’ll be thrilled that she understands these healthy habits.
Now that you know the importance of establishing a bedtime routine for your baby, let’s chat about how to do it. You have lots of options for your bedtime routine so you should find a few activities that suit your baby’s interests and work for your family. Bedtime routines can be as short at 5 minutes or last longer if it is helpful to your child. No matter where you begin your bedtime routine, always end it in your child’s room so she accepts it as a blissful place for peaceful sleep.
One great way to start a bedtime routine is by first doing something a little more active. Kids need to relieve stress just like adults. Allow your little one to release some built up tension and energy by doing some tummy time, silly dances, bouncing her around the room or having a crawling race. Once your activity is done, follow-up with something calmer, such as a quiet “thinking” game or a bedtime story.
Many parents incorporate a bath into their bedtime routine. On top of getting your little tot clean, baths can be soothing and calming to children. Warm water, sweet soapy smells and a little splishy-splashy time can help your baby wind down for the evening. After bath time, a nice baby massage with an all-natural lotion or baby oil can further soothe your baby while also giving her comforting feelings of love and affection from your touch.
Make sure your bedtime routine includes taking care of all of your baby’s needs so she feels safe, secure and comfortable. This includes changing her into a fresh diaper and clean pajamas, turning on sound machines and nightlights that your baby may like, setting the temperature appropriately and brushing her teeth. Brushing is an essential bedtime habit that you should start early. If your baby doesn’t have teeth, you can brush her gums to get used to the nightly ritual. Also, breastfeeding your baby is a terrific nourishing and nurturing bedtime activity that will satisfy her tummy and her heart.
Additional elements of your bedtime routine may include singing, talking and saying goodnight. Holding your baby close to feel your vocal vibrations as you sing is especially calming. You can also talk to your baby about what she did that day and what you’ve got planned for the next day. Even if she doesn’t understand your words, hearing them is important to her development. Saying goodnight to special things around your house is also great before bedtime. After all, teddy bears, dressers and fans could use your goodnight wishes too.
Establishing a bedtime routine will help your baby understand, accept and enjoy bedtime. The rituals you initiate now will probably stick around for years to come so soak up these tender moments and help your baby develop wonderful habits for the future.