A bedtime routine is made up of calm and soothing steps that help relax your little one before bed, and after a period of time, your baby should start to recognise that these steps signal that it’s time to sleep, often helping to settle them quicker.
When should I start establishing a bedtime routine for my baby?
Every baby is different, some like to sleep for long periods whilst others wake frequently, and no two sleeping patterns will be the same. Most new parents will introduce a bedtime routine at around three months after their sleeping and feeding habits become more consistent.
Before starting a bedtime routine, you should observe your baby’s natural sleep pattern to establish what time they usually start to become drowsy before bedtime. Keep a log and once you see a pattern, you can determine what time you should begin your sleep routine each evening, which should start roughly around 30 minutes before they go to sleep. For example, if your little one goes to sleep at around 7:30pm, start your sleep routine at 7pm.
Once you have decided when to start your bedtime routine, you should introduce it slowly to your little one. The aim with a sleep routine is to make your baby sleepy, without actually getting them to sleep. By putting them into their crib when they are drowsy from a sleep routine, they should hopefully fall asleep peacefully by themselves, teaching them the all important skill of getting themselves to sleep without needing help. This will inevitably help during the night as when they wake, your little one will have developed the skill to get themselves back to sleep without you needing to get up and tend to them – which means a more peaceful night’s sleep for you!
An example of a bedtime routine could consist of the following steps:
As with most things, establishing a good bedtime routine can require a bit of trial and error – not every baby will respond positively to every step – and you may need to adapt your routine as they get older. For example, a nightlight might prove too distracting for your little one, or once they learn to splash bath time becomes a more exciting activity rather than a soothing one. You might also find that sticking to a set time every day doesn’t work for your baby, so a baby-led schedule might be better for you. A baby-led schedule is when you look for cues from your little one that they are starting to get sleepy to start your sleep routine each day.
By around six months, most babies will have a good bedtime routine and be able to sleep through the night, however, it’s important to remember all babies are different. The key to a good bedtime routine is consistency and once you have introduced this to your little one you should maintain it every night for the best results.