What’s your baby’s bedtime routine? On the surface, that may seem like a simple and straightforward question. But for many parents of newborns and infants, it can be yet another source of stress and concern. You may not know how old your baby should be before you start implementing a bedtime routine. You might have questions about what should be involved or how elaborate it needs to be. And on a more fundamental level, you may be asking yourself, “what the heck is a bedtime routine and why does my baby need one?”
They’re all perfectly normal and valid questions. And it’s our hope that the following information and ideas will help put your mind at ease, and help send your baby off to a deep and restful sleep each and every night.
First, let’s start with the what, why, and when. A bedtime routine is a series of activities you and your baby do every night before you lay them down to sleep. It’s important that your routine is calming and soothing for your little one, and that you’re consistent with it every night. By creating a routine that is both pleasurable and predictable for your baby, you’ll find that she has a much easier time falling asleep at the end of it. And this may come as a surprise, but you can start to implement yours when your kiddo is as young as 6 to 8 months.
So, what should your baby’s bedtime routine consist of? Ultimately, that’s something only you can decide. But here’s some news that may help put your mind at ease: your baby’s bedtime routine does not need to be elaborate to be successful. In fact, you’ll probably find that a simple routine works best for your family.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Oldies but goodies—successful activities parents have been using for decades:
Freshen her up
To help fix any discomforts and get your baby feeling good before bed, you can wash her face and hands, change her diaper, wipe her gums, and put on her pajamas.
Give her a bath
Having a bath in warm water is a soothing experience for most babies (adults, too!) that helps them drift off to sleep.
Read a story
Reading a story is a great way for your baby to spend calming, quality time with you before bed (bonus: it can help your baby learn to recognize new words).
A few other ideas to try:
One last big play
If you find that your kiddo has a lot of pent-up energy at bedtime, it may be beneficial to start your routine with one last big play. The important thing to remember is to follow it up with a soothing and calming activity, like a bath or story.
Sing a lullaby
Your baby’s favorite sound in the whole wide world is your voice. When you use it to sing your little one a soothing song, it can be a powerful tool to help calm and comfort her before bed.
Play soothing music
Like singing a lullaby, playing soothing music for your baby can make the transition to Snoozeville smoother for her.
Whichever activities end up working best for you and your baby, at the end of the day, you’ll find that the most important path to success is to be consistent. By sticking to the same bedtime routine day in and day out, your little one will learn to accept sleep more easily, even in unfamiliar surroundings.