Child sleep research suggests that following small routines leading into bedtime helps babies to settle into sleep more easily. As an adult, we have our own bedtime routines that we follow. For me, I get into my pyjamas, wash my face and brush my teeth, then I get into bed. I often read for 15-20 minutes before I decide to go to sleep. It is not surprising then, that our babies and children also crave some rituals around going to bed. It helps them wind down and also the predictability warns them that bedtime is coming. This will help create a calmer bedtime for everyone and hopefully avoid the screaming match with toddlers just at that time of night that no one has energy for!
When should I start?
Research suggests that having a nightly routine by 7 months helps with developing healthy sleep patterns. It may even help to begin when they are just a few months old, after all even young babies crave and enjoy predictability.
What are some things I could be doing to get them ready for sleep?
- Milk feed
- Read a book
- Have a cuddle
- Sing some nursery rhymes
- Give them a warm bath
- Use baby massage
- Get dressed into Pyjamas
- Change nappy
- Put sleeping bag on
Which elements you choose, and the order you do it in, is completely up to you and your family preferences and circumstances. The last step is usually to put them into their Cocoonababy or bassinet/cot for sleep. It is often recommended, not to make the evening ritual longer than about an hour.
Do I need to follow this every time I put them to bed?
Experts suggest that a lengthy bedtime routine of about an hour is best kept to nighttime. However it doesn't hurt to develop a short routine that you follow before naps to also calm down your little one and prepare for sleep.
Will it be really difficult if I have to change these routines later?
Once children know their regular bedtime routine, it is usually not hard to make slight adjustments. Rather than changing everything all at once, change one element of the routine at a time. Then after a few days/weeks when they are settled into the new routine, you could make another change. If you have a special occasion and you're out one night, or have people around and want to skip something i.e. (taking a bath) it usually isn't a problem. Just make sure you're not skipping everything!
It is important to remember however, that developing a bedtime routine won't always lead to your baby settling or sleeping perfectly at night but research shows us it certainly helps. There are many other factors involved particularly ensuring that your baby is not over or under tired and ready for sleep! Do you have a bedtime routine that you like to follow with your little one? If so, please leave us a comment below!