A great bedtime routine is one that is consistent, calm and relaxing for everyone involved. It’s also one that is not too long and drawn out, to avoid making an already tired baby or child become even more exhausted and overstimulated at the end of their day.
Correctly setting up “day” and “night” is an important part of creating a successful daily routine for your baby or child and having a bedtime routine at a similar time each night, that involves the same, familiar steps will help your baby understand that their day is coming to an end and their night is soon beginning.
Here’s how to create the perfect bedtime routine for your baby or child -
Step 1 – Give your little one a bath, shower or massage. The bath is an important part of the bedtime routine. It’s a calm, relaxing activity that your baby or child will enjoy and it’s a great signal that their day is nearly over and that their night is fast approaching. If you don’t have a bath, a shower is perfectly fine. Now, a bath or shower every night is not necessary and may not always be doable, so on nights that you aren’t bathing or showering your baby or child, instead, give them a soothing massage in their bedroom, to help calm them and give them the signal that bedtime is coming.
Step 2 – After the bath or shower, wrap your little one in their towel (pre-warmed if possible) and take them straight into their quiet and dimly lit bedroom to be dressed in their overnight sleeping attire. If your massaging them, you will already be in their bedroom so there’s no need to go anywhere. Dressing your baby or child in their dim, quiet bedroom will help them continue to wind down. Avoid taking your baby or child out into the loungeroom, to play or sit in front of the TV. Activity, noise and bright lights will overstimulate your little one and that not what you want before putting them down to bed. What about reading books before bed? Reading to your baby or young child is a lovely thing to do however right before bed can also be stimulating. Choose a special time to read in the morning or afternoon instead.
Step 3 – Once your little one is cozy and warm in their sleep clothing, give them their milk feed. You want your baby or child to have a full breast or bottle bedtime feed in their quiet bedroom before they go to sleep for the night. Giving your little one a full feed at bedtime will help keep them satisfied so they can have their long stretch of night sleep before needing to be fed again. Avoid feeding your baby or child to sleep as this can become a sleep aid / sleep association for them. If they fall to sleep feeding at bedtime, they may wake frequently overnight because they need to be fed to fall back to sleep every time they wake.
Step 4 - After your little one has been fed well and burped, put them in their swaddle or sleep suit. It’s essential that you put your baby or child in their suit or swaddle after the feed and not before as the sleep suit / swaddle becomes an important “before sleep” association.
Step 5 – The final step in your little one’s bedtime routine is giving them a big cuddle before you put them down in their bassinet, cot or bed awake, to fall to sleep independently. As you cuddle your little one, whisper in a hushed voice some sleep words like “it’s time for nigh nigh’s” or “goodnight my darling”. As your little one grows, these words will also become a wonderful sleepy bedtime association for them.