Why do we need a bedtime routine?
Bedtime routines are great for many reasons. They help our children wind down before bedtime. They signal to our baby that it’s time to sleep. They even help our bodies begin producing sleep-inducing hormones. Children thrive on consistency and routine. The regularity of repeating the same steps in the same way at the same time each night is comforting for most babies and kids.
When is the right time to start a bedtime routine?
It’s never too soon to start developing good sleep habits. From our baby’s birth, we can begin using tools and techniques to promote healthy sleep, such as swaddling, having a dark room, sleeping without motion, using white noise, putting our baby down when she is drowsy but awake. When the baby reaches eight weeks is a great time to establish a more organized bedtime routine. It’s also never too late to start a routine, so even if your child is older, you can begin today.
What should we include in the routine?
Before we discuss what you should include, I’ll mention what should NOT be part of your routine. No screen time (TV, laptop, iPad, DVD, etc) with bright artificial light within one hour of bedtime. Learn more on TV and sleep here. OK, now to what to include. Following are my suggestions but your routine doesn’t need to have all of this. Pick those elements that work best for your child and you, and then be consistent.
Sitting in warm water is soothing and a bath is a wonderful way for your partner to spend some special time with your baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding and he can’t help as much with feeding your baby. If your baby gets excited during baths or doesn’t enjoy them, then leave them out of the routine. Instead, have a quiet cuddle or read a story.
Have a wash and brush-up
Your baby’s routine can include washing her face and hands, wiping her gums or brushing her teeth, changing her nappy and putting on her pyjamas, a soft all-in-one suit or a sleeping bag. It’s important to start the habit of teeth brushing at a young age so your baby gets used to it.
Give a massage
You may like to give your baby a 15 minute massage to help relax her and send her off to sleep. Make sure her room is warm and cozy and let her guide you as to what relaxes her, or check our http://babyandkids.co.za/2018/02/08/baby-massaging-everything-you-need-to-know/
Have a chat
Bedtime is a great opportunity for you to spend time talking to your baby. If you’re not sure what to say at first, start by talking about what she’s done that day. Your voice will soothe and comfort your baby.
Many babies enjoy the ritual of being carried around the room or the house before bed to say goodnight to family members, pets, favourite toys and other objects.
Read a bedtime story
Your baby will love snuggling down for a story with you. And it’ll help her learn to recognise new words. Studies have shown that your baby’s language skills can benefit from exposure to a large vocabulary.
Sing a song
Singing a lullaby is a time-honoured way to help your baby drift off. She loves hearing her favourite sound, your voice, and the soft, soothing melody can calm her. If you can’t remember the words or tune to your favourite songs, turn to our lullaby lyrics and lullaby podcasts for a refresher course.
Stick to your usual routine as much as you can, even when you’re not at home. It can make it easier for your baby to settle down in unfamiliar surroundings.