Imagine not establishing a routine for your baby when it comes to sleep – it simply wouldn’t work. Why? Well, mainly because this is one of the most important things for parents to work on once all the doting is over and it’s time for everyone involved to get a little sleep!
If you think about it, our brains take in an incredible amount of information and adults have seen and learnt a lot! Now, try imagining that you’re a baby and many of the things that your senses are being introduced to and are becoming accustomed to are fresh and pretty much everything is new to you.
There has to be a time when all this can be stored and ‘filed away’ in the memory banks.
If you’re still pregnant, or you’re a parent of a newborn baby you can enjoy some of these essential, timeless tips that will help you develop a bedtime routine for your baby.
One of the big factors to remember is that every parent, whether new or familiar with parenthood, will have been asking themselves or someone else the questions below.
The great things about the internet is that the information is so readily available now, and with so many people around to help share useful tips and information, hopefully, your time as a parent will be more enjoyable and less stressful.
Have a read over these points and take them on your journey to becoming a great parent!
Why Do Babies Need a Bedtime Routine?
Just as us adults do, babies have to get into a well-rehearsed bedtime routine, quite simply to unwind from their day of soaking in all the new information. Similarly to us grownups, it can be tricky to drift off after a hectic day if there’s no cooldown period before its slumber time.
Get that all-important bedtime ritual all worked out while your bundle of joy is a baby though and you’re setting yourself up for easier bedtimes now and also when the bambino moves into childhood (sorry, it’s got to happen!).
Parents need to be prepared for routine in the evening too, baby can feel when their parents aren’t relaxed.
What Time Should My Baby’s Bedtime Be?
Many parents will notice a certain time during the early evening when their child starts to become grouchy. Tell-tale signs of this are:
- Eye rubbing
- General irritability
The idea here should be to take a mental note of when these characteristics start to show up in the evenings and then focus your attentions on introducing the bedtime routine before these signs of tiredness start.
Don’t forget that you will probably want Baby to be able to bask in a nice, warm bath, perhaps some stories, and almost definitely some milk, all minus any tetchiness going on.
In actual fact, the time that you begin the process of getting your baby ready for bed varies depending on a host of things, such as when they nap during the day, what time the feeds fall on, and what time you’d like them to wake in the morning (in a perfect world).
All that said, around the 6 pm to 6.30 pm mark is a standard time for sleep of an evening that many parents go by.
Where Should My Baby Fall Asleep?
In the initial six months, experts suggest that your baby should sleep in their own bed, located in the same bedroom as you. This is mostly to reduce the dangers of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
During the evenings, you might want to think about letting the little one drift off in the comfort of a Moses basket while they’re still downstairs with you, and then you can carry it up to your bedroom when you go to bed.
A travel cot is a very versatile alternative that some parents like to use instead of a Moses basket. When the time comes to getting your baby to fall asleep at night in a crib, you can use a super guide from the Sleep Advisor on this topic that will have them in dreamland in no time at all!
How Do I Help My Baby Overcome Separation?
Bedtime can seem like a bit of a frightening time for babies, and it’s never nice to see your little one upset. They generally feel this way because they’re imminently about to be separated from the closest people in the world to them!
This can bring on some unwanted bouts of anxiety that will see them falling asleep in an abrupt, unstructured manner. to avoid this, consider setting aside a time period of between ten minutes and half an hour in order to do something special with your child. Try saying “goodnight rabbit”, as an example:
You’ll get to recognise that lots of babies love to be carried around the room or the house and saying goodnight to favourite toys and objects, such, or even the comforter they take to bed with them.
By saying “goodnight moon”, “goodnight rabbit”, for example (insert favourite toys name here), they can associate it with them not being separated/singled out for sleep by themselves, often making them feel more relaxed.
What is the Right Environment to Get My Baby to Sleep?
A vital part of forming a reliable sleep routine for your baby is having them know the difference between night and day. As a matter of fact, this could help your baby to have a better overall sleep in terms of quality when the evening bedtime comes.
To introduce this, during the day, make sure that your curtains are drawn, pay plenty of attention to your baby and stimulate them as much as you can. Oh, and don’t concern yourself too much with the noise levels during nap times either.
Once bedtime rolls around, ensure you’re keeping the lights in the room down as low and keep reduce the noise to a minimum. Start using a really gentle, softly spoken voice and really set the mood for downtime.
Keep in mind that darkness is great at triggering sleep hormones, adding to the things that are on hand to assist in getting your baby off to sleep.
Alleviate the light of late evenings/early mornings by using blackout blinds, for example, as this could well help with sleep quality and quantity, not to mention the routine of not waking up when the birds start to sing!
How Do I Leave My Baby to Go to Sleep?
Your baby needs to know when you are going to be leaving them for the night. The ideal way for them to know this is to have a cue word that they can identify with which will signify it’s time to sleep. A couple of basic examples of this could be saying; “nuh, night, love you” or “sweet dreams”.
There are some things that can be categorised as bad sleep associations, and these things are to be avoided. You don’t want bad habits creeping in as they’ll be tricky to wean your little one off of. Bad sleep associations include such things as:
- Feeding your baby to sleep
- Rocking them to sleep
Also, if Baby will only ever get to sleep when they’re resting in your arms at bedtime, this will become the norm and you’ll have to repeat exactly the same process every single night or their sleep can be disrupted.
Obviously, no one in the family wants that and it’s not fair to the little one to have to try and cope with unsettled sleep when they’ve gone to sleep worked up.
To avoid having to deal with this kind of issue, be certain that each night, even when they wake during the night, that you settle them to sleep by putting them in their bed while they’re awake. Then you must say goodnight and head out of the room.
If you make this a mainstay of your routine right from the off, it will be the norm for you and Baby, and they won’t need that physical contact to drift off to sleep in the evenings.
Can the Bedtime Routine Change?
In a nutshell, yes. There are a number of factors that might come into play meaning you’ll have to adapt the bedtime routine as best you can. Popular instances include
- Clocks changing
- A change of environment
When and if any of these cases are brought on, one of the most advisable things you can do as a parent is to simply take it on the chin.
Accept that the routine will take a while to adjust to again, and do what you can to take steps, as soon as things have settled down again, to restore your well-oiled bedtime routine.
This is a really good point to reinforce setting up a strong bedtime routine form the start, as they’ll recognise certain traits and fall back into it when you are able to return the normal bedtime sleep pattern.