A bedtime routine helps to set the scene for sleep, show your baby what’s coming next (sleep), round up and end off the day beautifully. It should be one smooth flowing process made up of predictable steps which you repeat every single day. Often a bedtime routine starts with bath time. The whole process shouldn’t last longer than an hour from the onset of bath time to going down to bed.
Your bedtime routine is key to how well your baby falls asleep and stays asleep for the night ahead.
Your nighttime routine should look something like this:
1. Dinner: Dinner begins to set the wind-down tone and helps signal to the body that bedtime is near. Dinner usually happens anywhere between 5-6pm in most cases
2. Set the scene: Create an ambient, calm feeling as you prepare your baby’s body for sleep and bedtime. Take it all down a notch by closing all the blinds and curtains in your home and dimming the lights in preparation for sleep time. This encourages the secretion of Melatonin (the sleepy hormone).
3.Prepare your baby’s room for sleep: Make sure everything that you need after bath time to get your little one dressed and ready for bed, is left out, ready and waiting for you. Pj’s, nappies, nappy cream, sleeping bag, etc., should all be left out in preparation. If you bottle feed, you should also have your baby’s milk, warming in her room. Once you get your baby out of the bath and dress her, you should not come out of the room again. So make sure everything you need for your baby’s bedtime routine is in her room before bathtime.
(Often this is where parents go wrong and begin to burst the sleep bubble they have just started to create by doing bathtime)
4. Bath: Not only does giving your little one a bath act as a fantastic sleep association but also giving your baby a bath increases his core body temperature, which releases Melatonin, (the sleepy hormone), helping babies sleep better.
5. Preparing for sleep: Go into your baby’s room and close the door, the main light should be off, and a gentle lamp should be on allowing you the light you need to see.
6. Put on a lullaby and White Noise: A lullaby acts as an excellent sleep association, and White Noise replicates the sound of the womb, helping not only to calm and soothe babies but it also masks indoor/outdoor noise, keeping little ones asleep for longer.
7. Get baby ready for bed: Dry, dress baby and put her into her sleeping bag.
8. Story time: Read a couple of short sleep orientated books. If your little one is not interested in reading books before bed or there is not enough time to read a book in your bedtime routine yet, don’t worry, as your baby’s awake time begins to get a little longer and as she grows a little older, her interest will most likely strengthen.
9. Night night: Lovingly tell your baby its time for bed. Create a catch phrase that you use each night which your little one will become familiar with, such as: ‘It’s time for sleep my love, night night’.
10. Feed: Sit on the chair/bed in your baby’s room (or lay if more comfortable for you both) switch the lamp off. (You should be in complete darkness now). Feed your baby her bottle or breastfeed your baby.
11. Cot: Once your baby has finished drinking, gently and confidently, in one motion, pick up your baby and walk over to your baby’s cot, in the same position as she was feeding in your arms, place her down into her cot.
12. Reassurance: If necessary reassure her by patting her on the bum/back in a rhythmic motion, helping her fall asleep. She may have become so sleepy feeding that she doesn’t need any extra help once you put her down.
Once your feel confident and your little one is drifting to sleep, Leave the room.