One of the most common struggles moms have during the first weeks and months of their little angels’ lives is that they’re not sleeping through the night. No one can prepare you for bringing your newborn into this world and you forget how tired you are after countless days (weeks? months?) of interrupted sleep. Since Mom (or dad) must be up too, she or he is dragging the next day as the night owl snoozes the day away. Establishing regular bedtime routines is a key way you can reduce nighttime wake-ups so both you and your baby can get a good night’s rest.
The benefits of bedtime routines are something that can’t be left unsaid. Think about yourself in any situation – don’t you like to know what’s coming next? Your baby sure does. Knowing what is about to happen helps her relax, making it easier for her to go down and fall asleep quickly. Even if you’re not at home, stick as close to your routine as possible.
The earlier you establish a regular bedtime routine, the better. Even babies as early as one to two months old can benefit from a set pattern each night and will appreciate its consistency. The predictability is good for her, and good for you as the parent, too.
We started a brief routine with both kids when they were a few weeks old, but weren’t very consistent with it. I got in the habit of getting them from their rooms in the night and bringing them back to our bedroom where they would nurse or fall asleep in the swing next to our bed. This resulted in some extra sleepy nights for me once I decided they weren’t coming into our room anymore. But after just a few weeks of lots of trips from my room to the baby’s room, both of my children began to like their cribs, and grew to expect and love their own rooms. We also implemented some sleep training, but that’s an entirely different post.
How To Establish Bedtime Routines
To establish a good routine, start early in the evening so you have adequate time to complete your sequence of events. Something simple like taking a warm bath, putting on a fresh diaper and pajamas, and reading a few books or singing songs is sufficient. The routine may take place in various rooms throughout the home, but be sure it ends in her bedroom. Make her room become a safe haven and not a place that seems like punishment. If she enjoys her room, she’ll go to sleep more quickly and stay asleep longer (hooray!).
I asked for help from friends and our pediatrician when trying to establish a bedtime routine for my baby. So if you’re wondering what to include in your bedtime routine, I can share what works for us. We begin our evening routing with a warm and soapy bath. Then we brush the kids teeth, put on lotion and dress them in clean pajamas. We read their favorite stories and cuddle in our family room. A few minutes before bed, we give them reminders to let them know it’s almost bedtime. We always march (literally) up to their rooms and turn on their sound machines. They get tucked in bed with their favorite blankets (obviously no blankets for tiny babies) and we say our prayers and give kisses.
There are countless routines that prove successful for different children. Pick a routine that works for your baby. Anything will work, just make sure you end your evening with things that are soothing and quiet to help calm down your baby.
If you’re starting to feel like your baby sleeping through the night is something that will never happen, don’t worry! We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or sixth baby, I think every mom has those moments of helplessness and pure exhaustion where she wonders if her baby will ever sleep through the night. Get in a consistent and predictable routine and your baby (and you!) will be sleeping through the night before you know it.
What activities make up your baby’s bedtime routines?
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