How to Create a Baby Bedtime Routine in 15 Steps
Tucking your baby in, kissing their forehead, and whispering, “Goodnight, sleep tight” is all that you need to do to get your baby to sleep each night, right?
Nope! Not quite.
Babies are creatures of habit and they crave a consistent routine when it comes to eating, napping, playing, and going down for the night.
In fact, you can get your baby into a bedtime routine as young as one month old.
Here are 15 tips that will help you get your baby sleepy and ready for bed!
1. Use a Piece of Equipment
When you use the same piece of equipment everyday evening prior to bed, your baby will start to associate it with time to go down for the evening.
I used to put my son into his baby swing and let him sway gently to soothing music before taking him upstairs to his crib. He knew it was time to wind things down and eventually anticipated being put to bed.
A friend of my always brought out a stuffed animal that played lullabies and read a story to her baby as the bedtime signal.
The key is to finding something that works for you, and sticking with it religiously until the routine sticks with your baby.
2. Draw a Warm Bath
Nothing makes a baby sleepier than receiving a warm, comforting bath.
Thirty minutes prior to your baby’s bedtime, bathe them. While in the tub, you can trickle water down their back or pour it down their body to make the more relaxed.
If your baby is still in an infant tub (which is supported by a suspended net), be sure to drape their body with warm washcloths to mimic the feeling of being fully submerged in warm water.
3. Use Scents
Lavender and Sweet Orange essential oil are calming and comforting, and ideal to use before bed.
Whether you diffuse the scents or apply them directly to the skin (with a carrier oil) or put a few drops in the tub, your baby will will get sleepier by the moment.
You can also light scented candles around your home to create a cool and calming environment.
4. Give Baby a Massage!
Think about the last time you received a massage. How relaxed were you?
You may have fallen asleep on the table. So, why not use these relaxation techniques on your baby?
Use gently kneading motions on their back, neck, and legs. You can massage the back of their scalp and also tickle their face prior to putting them to bed.
Want to get a bit more technical? You can check out various videos or websites that give more detailed explanations and steps as to how you can get your baby ultimately relaxed and ready for bed.
5. Use a Swaddle
Swaddles are great because they make your baby feel more snug and secure.
They mimic the feeling of being curled up inside the womb, which bring instant comfort to your little sleeper. Swaddles also come in all kinds of fabrics and styles, so they can grow with your baby and can be worn in all seasons.
They also allow you the choice of doing a full body swaddle, and just a bottom half swaddle once your baby starts to roll over.
Sleep sacks, which are “cousins” of swaddles, are also great choices because they zip a baby into place and helps keep them cozied up as well, but have less parts to wrap, velcro, or secure.
6. Mix Up Care Givers
It’s nice to have both parents take turns putting the baby to bed. It gets your baby used to different smells, touches, noises, and helps them adjust to a variety of caregivers.
When your baby learns to be adaptable, they will sleep for anyone, anywhere (plus, it serves as great bonding time)!
7. Make Background Noise
The womb is a very noisy place, actually. So, in order to get your baby into a bedtime routine, consider playing background noise.
White noise machines, sleep devices that have controllable sounds, fans, and air purifiers are all great choices.
You may even wish to pick up a sleep toy that plays heartbeat sounds, since your baby is used to hearing that constantly. By running background noise, your baby will be more likely to go to sleep and stay asleep.
8. Be Consistent With Your Night Feedings
You should give your baby their final night feeding an hour before bed.
This gives them plenty of time to feel full, to process the feeding, and to avoid gassiness or spit up prior to bed since they won’t be placed flat on their back right away.
When you feed your baby at the same time each evening, they will associate it with getting ready to be placed down for the night.
9. Clean the Air
Your baby will sleep better if they can breathe better. Run a cool mist humidifier a few hours before bedtime, and throughout the night.
These devices are safe, as they emit cool moisture back into the air. Plus, many of them turn off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running into the nursery to do so.
10. Keep Things Calm in Your Home
An hour or so before bedtime, calm things down in your home. Babies feed off the energy of their family and environment.
So, dim the lights, light some candles, eliminate sounds and technology.
Talk calmly and quietly in order to not keep them stimulated and overly excited, so they associate evening with getting ready to tuck in for the night.
11. Offer a Pacifier
Very young babies need that safety and security when sleeping, especially if they’re in a crib by themselves for the first few times.
This is when a pacifier comes into play.
Many parents have mixed emotions in regard to this. But, when given regularly for nap or bedtime only, babies develop a sense of self-soothing, and will start to put themselves to sleep with ease with one.
It’s recommended that pacifiers aren’t used past their first year of age due to concerns about teeth development and speech. But, for the first year of life, they are very helpful at bedtime.
12. Sleep Training
Part of a successful bedtime routine is getting your baby to put themselves to sleep (or back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night) on their own.
Sleep training is recommended for older babies, starting at about six months of age. Simply place them in their crib, tell them goodnight, and walk away.
If your baby cries, let them go for 10 minutes. Go back into the nursery, and repeat.
The key here is to have patience. The first night or two, you may have to go into the nursery a dozen times.
But, after a week or so, the number of visits should diminish, and your baby will learn how to go to sleep on their own, and stay asleep. Eventually, bedtime will be something they look forward to, and value!
13. Adjust the Temperature
A baby will be more welcome to the concept of sleep if their room is the right temperature.
Optimum temperature for a baby’s nursery is between 65 and 70 degrees.
Consider investing in a baby monitor that allows you to control the temperature to keep your baby’s room feeling great without stepping foot in their room to wake them.
14. Go Organic
Your baby will be more likely to accept sleep if they are comfortable in their crib.
Invest in organic cotton sheets and sleepwear. They’ll stay cool, cozy, and will have zero contact with chemicals or other irritants.
15. Play a Mobile
Play a mobile only when you put your baby down for the night.
They will understand that when they hear that familiar tune and see the moving mobile, that it’s time for them to wind things down and settle in for the night.
These 15 tips and tricks are highly effective with getting your baby into a positive and regular bedtime routine.
When they know what to expect, when they’re able to understand bedtime cues, and associate certain sounds or objects with sleep, they will slip right into a night time schedule!