Establishing a Baby Bedtime Routine
A pleasant bedtime routine can help children and babies with the transition from being awake to helping baby falling asleep. A good bedtime routine can help your child feel more comfortable and secure about what to expect when each day comes to an end.
In order to create a bedtime routine for babies, you need to develop a predictable sequence of activities that can easily and consistently be adhered to each night. Also, consider if you need to fix your baby’s sleep schedule.
The bedtime routine in question can start to evolve and change as the child starts to grow, although its basics will need to remain as they were from the beginning. Depending on your child’s age, the baby bedtime routine may involve wearing their PJs, brushing their teeth, and then reading them an interesting bedtime story.
A bedtime routine idea will normally work best when you have reserved at least an hour prior to bedtime for engaging in quiet play with your child. Additionally, a bedtime routine can help significantly if your baby won’t sleep. Reserving this amount of time helps lower the baby’s activity levels while also preparing their nervous system for some much-needed relaxation.
1. Set a Specific Timetable and Be Sure to Stick to It
A child’s body is able to adjust much more easily to the bedtime routine if you choose a bedtime routine that follows a consistent and natural pattern. This means that you should avoid making changes to the bedtime routine as it will make it even harder for your baby to fall asleep. The last thing you want to do is create further baby sleep problems.
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2. Provide a Warning
Just before the child has to rest, be sure to issue a warning to indicate that the day has started to wind down. Depending on your child’s age, they may be too young for them to start judging time just yet. This means that telling them five minutes to go may not necessarily work for you. However, you can teach your baby through association.
This can be achieved by starting the first part of the baby bedtime routine, e.g., placing the toys away or running the bathwater. Choose how you would like to start the bedtime routine in order to signal that the day has started to wind down.
There are parents who often choose to signal impending bedtime routine by having the kitchen timer ring for five minutes: for a child, this is an indication that their bedtime has arrived. It also allows for an opportunity where a third party gets to announce bedtime, thereby reducing the desire for a child to complain. This is because toddlers also understand that it is not possible to argue with machines.
3. Offer Your Child a Snack
Light snacks that include carbohydrates and proteins, for instance, one half of wheat or whole bread and a small piece of cheese will help induce sleep in a toddler and will let the child remain asleep for the rest of the night. If your baby won’t stay asleep, this can be particularly helpful.
This is an ideal child bedtime routine, as the carbohydrates will help make the baby sleepy, while proteins, on the other hand, will ensure that her blood sugar gets to remain level until breakfast time. Make sure that your baby gets to brush her teeth after eating.
4. Give Your Toddler a Warm Bath
It is important to create a bedtime routine that also incorporates a warm bath. By raising the child’s body temperature, you make the child more prone to falling asleep. In addition, getting a chance to play with her bath toys will also get her to relax.
Don’t forget, you can also try a baby massage!
5. Getting Dressed for Bed
Another bedtime routine idea involves getting your child ready for bed. For this, you will need to dress the baby using comfortable but non-binding PJs. Ensure that the pajamas are neither too light nor too warm.
6. Read a Story
This is one of the most comforting and rewarding bedtime routines for children. This is more so if the story in question happens to be a favorite story commonly associated with going to bed, e.g., Goodnight Moon. However, take note that as the child starts to grow, they will want access to more stories and to a broader variety.
7. Play Soft Music
You can always incorporate soft music into your baby’s bedtime routine. Baby sleep music can be very effective. With soft music, you do not have to do much as all you will need to do is to let the music play in the background and watch as your child starts to drift off to slumberland.
8. Provide Baby with a Sleeping Buddy
When developing your baby bedtime routine, you can try to incorporate snuggle buddies into that routine. Here, a teddy bear or favorite doll will come in handy in providing the comfort that your baby needs. Use caution if allowing your baby to sleep with a blanket.
9. Eliminate or Limit Bottles
If your baby has previously needed a bottle in order to fall asleep, ensure that in the new child bedtime routine, the bottle will only contain water. Formula, juice, or milk will normally pool around his teeth leading to the development of cavities, which can be dangerous, especially for small children.
If you want to stop giving your baby a bedtime bottle, now is the time to start.
10. Ensure Your Goodnights Are Brief
You need to create a bedtime routine that will see you only say good night when it is time for both parents to leave the child’s room. While at it, try very hard not to go back even if the child calls out for you. This may sound harsh, but every time you go back to the room when the child calls you, you start conditioning your child to learn that parents will always come back quickly when they are called.
For any bedtime routine idea that you come up, you have to be strict to ensure that it is followed to the letter. Any hesitation on your end can be picked up by the child to mean that you were not serious about her going to bed. It also shows them that if they yell out for you really loudly, you will have no option but to go back and check on them.
11. Be Patient
As with any other new activity, it is important to exercise some patience. For your new baby bedtime routine, you may have to plan for it at least two weeks in advance. Understand that it will take some time for it to really take hold. As you are practicing this new bedtime routine, you will need to ensure that each person who is to be involved in putting the baby to bed is around each night and working towards ensuring that the new system gets to take hold.
12. Have a Chat
Bedtime is always a nice time for you to spend a few minutes talking to your baby. It is not mandatory for you to wait until the baby is old enough to start narrating the events that occurred during the day. You can sit by her crib and narrate how your day went. This is a great way to get your baby to relax and fall asleep without causing a fuss.
You can even try moving your baby’s crib to a different location.
13. Make Sleep a Family Priority
You can achieve this by determining how much sleep is required by each member of your family, especially your baby’s sleep. Once determined, make sure that they all get to have enough sleep. If there are any problems, make sure that they are discussed with your toddler’s doctor. Many such problems are easily treated.
14. Stick to Your Baby Bedtime Routine
If the toddler tries to push their boundaries, you will need to be kind but firm as well. As a parent, it will be important to make sure that you stick to what you have said, or else your child will keep pushing the boundaries until you finally give up.
This means that you may have to repeat the process as many times as necessary. In addition, try and resist the urge to show irritation or get angry with the toddler’s efforts to try and extend their bedtime. Getting angry or showing irritation only means that the entire process will get prolonged.
Just as there are many ways to get your baby to fall asleep, there are certain things that you ought to avoid, or else your baby will end-up developing poor sleeping habits. It is important to note that when nothing is done, many babies who have developed poor sleeping habits when young will continue to have the same issues when they start attending daycare or school. You need to address your baby sleep habits from an early age. And remember, if your child is not getting enough sleep, then neither are you.