Like all people, babies feel more relaxed and happy if they know what to expect in the immediate future. This is particularly important at bedtime, which can be a real source of anxiety or stress for your baby. After all, who wants to go to bed when Mum and Dad are still up doing fun things?
Even from 6-8 weeks of age, your baby can follow a bedtime routine. The consistency and predictability will help your baby settle. When you leave your baby with a sitter or spend a night away from home, following the same routine will help offset the change.
Also, bedtime rituals are a really special time of day. You get to spend time with your baby and learn more about their personality.
Here are our top tips for starting a good bedtime routine:
Start your bedtime sequence early in the evening to give yourself enough time to get through all the steps. Make sure you have time so you don’t rush things!
Your bedtime rituals should always finish in your baby’s bedroom.
The first part of your ritual might be a fun game to release energy before bed. Dancing, bouncing, tickling, or horsey rides are a great way to provide some energy release.
Follow up this rowdy play with something nice and quiet to help baby wind down – maybe a story.
Bathtime! Many babies enjoy their bath, and the warm water can help soothe them to sleep. Baths are a special time for parents and baby, and they can be great fun, especially if there’s two of you working together to make it go quickly and easily. However, if your baby hates baths, maybe consider leaving them out of the bedtime ritual and instead doing them at a different time of day.
Other habits. Wash face and hands, brush teeth, changing diapers – these can all signal to baby that it’s time for sleep.
Your baby needs to understand that their bedroom is a lovely, fun, and relaxing place to be. You don’t want them to feel as though it’s the dark cave where they’re banished at bedtime! Try playing a small, quiet game before bed to help them accept their bedroom.
Say goodnight. A ritual many parents and babies enjoy is being carried around the house, saying goodnight to family members, pets, toys, and the moon or a favourite tree.
Have a chat. Talk to your baby in the crib. Your voice will be the last thing they hear before bed. Talking helps your baby to hardwire their language skills, and they find it relaxing to hear their parents’ voices.
Read a story or song. Instead of, or as well as, a chat, you might like to read or sing to your baby.
Bedtime! Now your baby is all tucked in, it’s time to turn off the light and let them get some sleep.
You can adapt your routine to suit your own baby. The important thing is that whatever you decide to include, you stick to it, night after night. Over time, you’ll see your baby responding to the routine, and it will become a truly special part of your day.
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