When I work with families, we always go through the steps of their child’s bedtime routine. Some people have one and some people don’t. You can start a bedtime routine as early as six weeks (if you want).
Why do we need a set bedtime routine?
A consistent calming bedtime routine is the first step in helping your baby get a good night’s rest. It sends cues to his brain that sleep is coming next – and helps with the release of melatonin (his sleep hormone). I close the curtains in the bedroom and turn off any music or tv in the house. By quieting things a little, it will help your baby calm. Your bedtime routine does not have to be long, 30 minutes is all it takes. A few things to include are:
You do not have to offer a bath every night. If you are in the habit of giving your baby a bath before bed every night, okay. If you are running late, or your baby is tired and you have to skip the bath – that is okay too! Everything after bath time will be the same on bath night and non bath nights.
Whether you give your baby a bath or not, I do suggest moisturizing before bed. When your baby starts to roll, be sure to moisturize his cheeks often. Rubbing his face on the sheet, drooling etc can chap his cheeks.
This one is a given. If you find your baby is leaking through the diaper during the night, you can go up one size diaper at night and stick with your regular size during the day.
Pjs & sleep sack (if you use one)
Cotton pjs (or other natural fibres) and sleep sacks are my favourite. They let the body breathe and whicks away any sweat which can help with regulating his body temperature.
Sleep sacks remove the need for blankets. You can take them with you when you travel and it is a little reminder of home. Some babies fuss when you first put on the sleep sack – but stay happy and keep using it and your little one will stop fussing!
Read a book or sing a song
Depending on the age of your baby (and how he naps), you might not get through an entire book before having to close it and say goodnight – but you can always try. Singing a song is a lovely way to help your baby calm down and get ready for sleep as well.
You can offer your baby a feed as part of your bedtime routine. If you don’t want him to fall asleep while feeding then you can move it to the beginning of your routine.
30 minutes of calm, that’s all you need at the end of the day.