For little ones bedtime signals the end of a busy day and often one of the longest seperations from their caregiver. Having a consistent bedtime routine that provides calming connection time prior to that separation can be key.
A consistent bedtime routine helps our little ones know the expectations and helps to cue their body that it’s time to sleep. A bedtime routine helps their body release melatonin, which is our sleep hormone and this helps them ease into sleep more easily. There are a few key things we want to include in our bedtime routine and typically we want these quiet and calming activities to start around 30 minutes before bed. During this time we want to make sure we turn electronics off, dim lights and provide that calming vibe for our little ones.
Often a calming bath or even a gentle massage while wiping them down and putting on some moisturizer helps to calm and settle their body to get it ready for sleep. A bath doesn’t need to happen every day, if it doesn’t it’s still great to have a massage with some lotion or wiping down their little hands and feet as part of your routine before their pajamas go on.
During our bedtime routine we want to make sure we are changing baby and putting on some cozy pajamas prior to sleep. For pajamas we often discuss choosing ones that are breathable and adjust to our own body temperature, so fabrics such as organic cotton or bamboo are great.
Using a Sleep Sack
Sleep sacks are a great alternative to blankets, especially for little ones under a year where we don’t recommend any blankets in the crib. Again finding a sleep sack that works for your little one, provides that comfort and is a breathable fabric to help regulate their natural temperature is key. Sometimes if you have a little one that gets too sleepy with that last feed, I often recommend putting on sleep sack after feed so are waking baby a bit more and ensuring they are going down awake.
Some Time for Connection
Often during the after work and dinner rush we are busy and trying to get through the end of the day. A bedtime routine allows for some of that connection time before bed and prior to that separation. A great way to do this is through some quiet reading, singing or game prior to sleep. Books are a great way to encourage some connection, talk about their day or use them to help ease into the bedtime transition. For older little ones you can take turns reading to each other, do some search and find books or simple calming games together. For younger ones they may enjoy some similar songs each night which help to relax them and provide some comfort at the end of the day.
If your little one is still having a bottle or nursing, we want to incorporate that into our bedtime routine as well. If you are worried about your little one getting too sleepy then I recommend that the feeding come before the books/songs so that we are doing feeding and then having something else prior to just laying them in bed.
While it is great to try and incorporate this into every day, there will be times where our schedule changes or your little on has missed a nap and is more tired. During these days it’s okay to make our bedtime routine a bit shorter, we still want to give them the wind down and connection time but it may just be a feed and a song then into the crib on those days.