Babies need a bedtime routine to help them learn to differentiate between night and day. Like adults, the routine allows them to unwind and fall asleep easier. Most babies are receptive to a routine around six to eight weeks.
Bedtime can be scary for babies, they are being separated from their parents and left alone. This is one of the biggest reasons it is important to establish a routine. If you suddenly plop your baby into their crib and expect them to go to sleep without a fuss they are going to be confused. If they are accustomed to a routine, your baby is going to know what is coming next.
Some of the things you can incorporate into a bedtime routine include play time, bath time, reading a book, a back rub, and a lullaby. Don’t feel like you need to incorporate all the suggestions below, find the routine that works for you and modifies it as you need to.
Play time is important to get any lingering energy out of your child. Play time can be bouncing around and being silly, a walk around the block or a game of peek a boo. As long as play time is followed by some sort of quiet time, this is a great first step in a bedtime routine.
Babies don’t need to be bathed every day. You can bathe your baby everyday if you find that your baby is more relaxed afterwards. If you find that baths excite your baby or your baby doesn’t enjoy bath time you can forgo it as a bedtime ritual and have bath time during the day instead. As an alternative to a bath, you can wash baby’s hands and face, change her diaper and put her into pajamas.
Read a book
Reading a book is good for many reasons. It allows you time to snuggle with your baby and also starts a love of reading at a young age. Another option to reading a book is just talking to your baby about the day, about plans for the next day or anything at all. As long as you are using a calm quiet voice, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about, babies find their parents voices soothing.
Rubbing your babies back after you have put him in his crib is a great way to help him relax and drift off to sleep.
Singing a lullaby, or having a cd playing with relaxing music can help settle your baby to sleep. If you choose to use a CD player, leaving it on a low volume after you leave the room can help ease the transition from awake time to sleep time, it will also add the benefit of drowning out outside noises. A sound machine is also a beneficial choice for soothing your baby to sleep and drowning out noises.
Spending ten to thirty minutes with your baby, reading a book, signing to him or rubbing his back, will help him relax knowing you are close. Do these things in his bedroom with the lights dim, so there is less transition between his comfort time with you and where he is going to sleep.
A routine can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. Your routine can include just pajamas and a snuggle in a dark room before putting a baby down to sleep or last an hour while you take the time to bathe, massage, read to and snuggle your baby. There is no proper way to put you baby to sleep as long as there is a routine so that your baby can learn to anticipate what comes next, and doesn’t feel as though he is being banished to his room at bedtime.