Bedtime can be a difficult time for some parents. It may seem like your baby takes naps perfectly on cue all day long, but is wide awake when it comes to bedtime. You are not alone.
Many parents struggle with figuring out the most effective and efficient way to put their babies to bed without having to console their crying child for hours. Children thrive in an environment that is both predictable and consistent. Establishing a bedtime routine is extremely important when trying to sleep-train your child. That is why we have come up with 10 tips to make your baby’s bedtime routine a breeze.
10 Pick the Right Time for the Right Child
What may have worked in the past with your other children, may not be what is best for your new baby. Every tiny human is different and bedtimes change accordingly. Putting your baby to sleep at 8:00 p.m. every night is great, but only if your child is feeling tired at that time.
If you notice that your baby starts to get tired around 7:00 p.m., start to implement your baby’s sleep routine at 6:30. Try not to make your baby wait too long between their last nap and bedtime. Some parents think that if they keep their child up really late, he or she will sleep throughout the night. This can actually have the opposite effect, causing your child to become overtired. When your baby is overtired, it is much harder for them to enter their REM sleep cycle, which can actually lead to a night of broken sleep.
9 Make a Bedtime Ritual
Bedtime can actually be a fun and calming time where you and your baby can bond. Having a nightly ritual will help your baby start to predict that bedtime is coming and allow for him or her to mentally prepare for sleep.
Bedtime rituals can consist of feeding, bath time, story time, or anything that you need to do to get your child ready for the night. You can also include your partner or your child’s siblings in the nightly ritual. Depending on the age of your baby, have your baby or members of your family wave goodnight or blow a kiss before you set off towards the nursery.
8 Clean and Comfy is the Way to Go
Just like most of us, your baby will appreciate clean and comfortable clothing before bed. Ensuring your tiny human has a clean diaper on under their clean clothes will go a long way during bedtime. If your baby’s room is on the warmer side, dress your child in something that is a little lighter.
If your nursery is a little on the cooler side, dress your baby in warmer pajamas. Keeping your little one the perfect temperature will allow for a nice long, comfortable sleep. It also helps to have clean and comfortable bedding too.
7 Dark or Dimly Lit Rooms to Set the Tone
A room that is too bright is a recipe for a restless night. Melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, is only produced by our bodies when it is dark. When it is too bright, our melatonin production stalls to keep us awake.
Keeping your baby’s room dimly lit or dark will ensure that your baby dozes off effortlessly. Some parents worry that their child will be afraid in the dark, but babies are too young to have developed that fear. If having a dark room becomes part of their bedtime routine, your child will become used to it and start to associate the dark with sleep.
6 The Right Amount of Peace and Quiet
Peace and quiet are extremely important when putting your baby to sleep, but that doesn’t mean barricading the nursery and cutting it off from every single sound. Babies, just like adults, enjoy white noise. White noise reminds your baby of what it sounded like when they were inside the womb and can be quite comforting.
Some soft background noise can help soothe your baby and put them right to sleep. If you find that your child is easily distracted by sounds, try and stay away from using the television or radio as background noise.
5 Master the Drowsy Baby Drop
When you’ve completed your bedtime ritual and your child is finally at the point where their eyes are closing and they’re ready to fall asleep, this is the optimal time to leave your baby’s room. It is much more effective than waiting until your baby completely falls asleep. The reasoning behind this is, when your baby wakes up, it is a scary shock to find that things have changed.
When your child closed their eyes they knew you were still in the room and now that they’ve opened their eyes, you are nowhere in sight. If you leave the nursery when your baby is still awake, but very sleepy, your child becomes used to falling asleep alone. This is also a great way to teach your baby how to self-soothe.
4 Before Bed Massage
Adding a before-bed massage to your baby’s nightly routine is a great way to bond with your child and also get them ready for sleep. Carefully massaging your baby gives you a chance to express love and care for your child.
The rhythmic motions of your fingers and hands stimulate the production of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, in your child. This leaves your little one feeling happy, loved, and relaxed. It also has many other benefits such as improving circulation, easing growing and teething pains, helping with digestion, and improving weight gain.
3 Tell a Story
Telling stories or singing songs have been part of millions of bedtime routines all over the world, and for good reason. Not only is this an amazing way to bond with your children, but telling stories also help with your child’s development. Involving your little humans in picking the story and helping you turn the pages keeps your children excited and motivated to hear the story.
Working story time into your bedtime routine is an excellent way to get your child ready for bed. Picking the story sometimes serves as the last part of the routine that your child gets to control, making them more willing to sleep afterward.
2 The Mini Ritual for Naps
When first starting a bedtime routine for your child, it is important to stay consistent and to use the ritual as often as possible.
Condensing the ritual and adding just a few key components like changing into pajamas or a reading mini story before nap time is a great way to help your baby recognize the steps he or she takes before going to sleep. Exposing your child to the ritual as often as possible is a great way for your baby to learn the routine and to become comfortable with it.
1 Keeping it Consistent
Staying consistent is key when creating an easy, breezy bedtime routine. This means that when grandma or the babysitter or uncle are helping with bedtime, they should follow the same routine.
A great way to ensure that everyone stays consistent is by printing out the nightly ritual. Some parents will print out little pictures and place them on the wall in the nursery. This is a great way to ensure that there is as little change as possible when administering the bedtime ritual when you are not there. The pictures also help your child predict and prepare for what is coming next.