Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a Bedtime RoutineIt’s never too early to start a bedtime routine with baby, but around 3 months is a common time to really put one into play. By that time many babies have started to fall into a more predictable schedule where mom and dad will know, at least roughly, when he’ll need to nap and when he’ll go down to bed. Putting a routine in place before sleep (nap or night, really) can help make bedtimes easier.

In the beginning, the bedtime routine will likely be more for mom and dad rather than baby, but over time the repetition each night will become a signal that helps baby calm down and prepare for sleep each night.

Your routine is whatever it needs to be. Just be consistent. Some people like to start the evening off with a warm bath, which is soothing for many children. Then move on to steps like a gentle massage, diaper and pajamas, some reading time (reading to babies is beneficial from day 1!), and the final meal of the night. Consider including nursery rhymes and lullabies, since their rhythms have a calming quality to them. (At that age, we often read from a collection of Shel Silverstein poems, since they’re soothing for baby and a little more entertaining than your average baby fare for mom and dad!) Keep the lights low, perhaps dimming as you go to signal baby that night is coming. Finally, lay baby in the crib with the lights off and rub his back or sing a song, something simple to help his drift off.

Whatever steps are right for your particular routine, the key is to do them in the same order at the same time each night so that baby can learn to rely on these social cues. Over time, many children begin to go to bed easier thanks to the presence of the routine and their ability to know what is coming. You are providing your baby with security and reliability. You are letting them know that you are still there, every night, and the whole process will resume in the morning as it has every morning previous.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She’s a strong advocate for cloth diapers, baby wearing, and generally a return to a gentler parenting style.

Tags: bedtime, cosleep, naptime, sleep

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