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Everything you need to know: Baby bedtime routine

Everything you need to know: Baby bedtime routine

The importance of a great bedtime routine for your baby

Most adults have a bedtime routine whether we realise it or not. When you go to bed, for instance, you probably don’t just jump straight into it after dinner. More than likely, you follow a basic routine of changing your clothes, brushing your teeth, washing your face, fixing your hair and maybe even watching an episode of your favourite drama series before turning in. Likewise, newborns should have a bedtime routine that is consistent and predictable. This will not only help your baby to settle and mentally prepare for bedtime, but it will reinforce your newborn’s natural circadian rhythms – helps to differentiate day from night.

When to start a bedtime routine with your baby:

A newborn bedtime routine should tell your baby that it’s time to settle down and go to sleep. The best bedtime routine is one that works with your schedule and can be maintained and smoothly transitions you and your baby from a busy day to a peaceful night.

Ideally, when your newborn is about 6-8 weeks old, you can get started on a bedtime routine. It can start off with just a cuddly feeding and a lullaby at first, and then you can add on as your baby grows into it with you. The key is to remain consistent.

A consistent and predictable bedtime routine provides a sense of comfort in your newborn that can be essential during times when your baby struggles to sleep, such as during growth spurts, during sleep regression or when you’re sleep training (ideally 4-6 months old).

How to start a bedtime routine:

A bedtime routine should not be a source of stress for you or your newborn baby. So don’t push yourself to start a bedtime routine from day 1 of your return from the hospital. Your body has already been through so much by giving birth to your newborn, so allow yourself, your body, your mind and your newborn a little time to get used to being home first. Although you may want to start early with developing a bedtime routine with your newborn, be realistic enough with yourself that you don’t push your limits too soon.

The best bedtime routine for your baby:

The best bedtime routine is simply the one that works best with you and your baby. Ultimately, the purpose of your newborn’s bedtime routine should help your baby sleep, train your baby to maintain the routine during tough nights and it should also help you to relax. Depending on your personality and your baby’s, some bedtime rituals may work better than others.

These bedtime moments with your newborn should be the coziest and calmest moments of your day. So make it special by adopting rituals that can create that soothing and relaxing space for you and your baby.

Here are a few examples you can use to help develop a bedtime routine that best works with you and your baby:

Noise Reducer

You know your baby best so you know whether your baby sleeps best in silence or with a little sound humming in the background. While pregnant, your baby got used to certain sounds in your body as you slept. Like the constant, low pounding of your heart as it beats, the gurling of your stomach or the sound of fluid whooshing as he moved around in your tummy. As such, your newborn may enjoy the hum of a fan, soft music or the soothing sound from a white noise or sound machine or app to steady the night noises in the house. Some newborns, on the other hand, prefer silence, like most adults. So work with your newborn to reduce or stabilise the level of noise in the house to induce sleep.

Bedtime Stories

As adults, the best bedtime stories are the ones that make us fall asleep from the first page. For babies, it’s sometimes the sound of our soothing voices as we read to them that eases them to sleep. As they grow, their imagination stirs as we read and they drift into dreamland and continue the stories in their dreams. A good bedtime story is really just one that eases your baby to bed almost effortlessly. It has the added benefit of also increasing your child’s vocabulary and improving how they express themselves as they get older.

Snuggle Your Baby

Your baby spent a considerable amount of time in your tiny tummy, so now that he’s in this great big world, he still prefers the snug comfort of anything that mimics your tummy. So a nice long snuggle at bedtime can do the trick, or a swaddle with a blanket or dressing your newborn in a sleep sack, they all offer added security and keep your baby comfortable. It may even help your newborn sleep a bit longer. Swaddling is recommended for newborns up to 3 or 4 months. Try not to swaddle your newborn once they can roll over or undo the swaddle themselves.

Your newborn may also feel more secure in a bassinet or cradle versus a crib that may feel too vast for your newborn and not as cozy or contained.

Bath and Body Massage

You can also try a warm soothing bath for your baby with calming scents that can soothe your newborn to sleep. You can also add a hand or body massage right after a bath that will help them to easily drift into sleep. Studies show that massaging your baby before bedtime, can increase the production of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin. Most adults can also attest to sleeping much easier after a massage so the same is true for babies.

After bringing your baby home, you may endure sleepless nights, but once you develop a bedtime routine that is consistent and predictable, sleepless nights will soon be behind you and your baby.

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