Sleep is an essential part of a child’s growth and development as an infant, toddler and beyond. Creating a bedtime routine early on for your baby is important to ensure that they are consistently getting a good night’s rest. Because children are pattern seekers, a relaxing, consistent nighttime routine provides gentle sleep training that can help your little fall asleep more easily. Implementing a bedtime routine early-on, learning your baby’s sleep cues, developing the right routine, and being consistent can help lead to quality sleep for your baby night after night.
Most parents wonder early-on how to get baby to sleep through the night, and that early impulse is absolutely correct. Begin a regimen for your baby family to follow as soon as possible— around 2 months is a good time to start getting in the habit of developing baby’s bedtime routine. Not only can this create consistency for baby, it can also help calm and soothe him, making it easier to fall asleep.
KNOW THE SIGNS
When a baby becomes tired, he or she will often begin to show signs that he is ready for bed. If you notice a sudden drop in your little one’s activity level, look for the following cues to help signal that your little one is ready for to begin his nighttime routine. Signs that your newborn is tired may include yawning, a reduction in movement, or fluttering eyes. Because every baby is different, learn your little one’s specific cues so you know when to begin their nightly bedtime regimen. As your baby grows, his sleepiness signals may change so be sure to pay attention to new cues as they develop.
Related article: Creating a Safe Nursery
DEVELOP A ROUTINE
Develop a sleep routine for your little one that soothes your baby and works for your family’s schedule. Common nighttime rituals might include a warm bath, calm play, a nighttime feeding, and a relaxing rock. However, because all baby sleeping patterns are unique, it’s important to figure out what specifically helps your baby sleep and incorporate that into his evening routine. Here’s just one example of a possible bedtime routine:
1. 15 minutes of calm playtime: Spend some one-on-one time with baby with a fun, quiet game such as peek-a-boo before bed. This can help him unwind. Be sure to avoid any play activities that involve electronics or are too boisterous to avoid overstimulating baby before bedtime.
2. Warm, relaxing bath: A soothing, warm bath not only gets baby clean, but can be very relaxing and calming. Keep bath time low-key so that baby does not get over-excited this late in the evening.
3. Diaper change and jammies: Get baby ready for bed with pajamas, a diaper change, and brushing his teeth/gums.
4. Read a story: Story time before bed can be very soothing for baby and is a great way to bond with your
child. Reading a book as part of baby’s bedtime routine not only lets you spend quality time with your little one, but can also help baby develop language skills.
Other possible activities to incorporate into baby’s evening routine include a nighttime feeding, singing lullabies, or quality time in the rocking chair. Learn what works for your baby and your family and incorporate that into their sleep routine. Be sure to follow these safe sleep tips and put your infant to sleep on his back, and keep stuffed animals, pillows, and blankets out of baby’s crib.
Consistency is key. Once you’ve established baby’s sleep routine, it’s important to be consistent and stick to the routine as much as possible. While some parents think babies will sleep longer if they are up past their usual bedtime, a later than usual bedtime can actually make it more challenging for them to fall asleep. Babies are pattern-seekers so a consistent, familiar routine—both at night and during naps— will help them fall asleep more easily. As your child gets older, their routine may change some. For example, swaddling may be part of baby’s routine in the beginning, but once they’ve outgrown a swaddle (around 3 months), baby’s nighttime routine will change.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
Not all bedtime routines are right for every family—what works for one baby, might not work for another. Learn what time and regimen work best for both your baby and the whole family’s sleep schedule. Some bedtime routines are short and sweet, taking only about 15 minutes, and may consist of a quick nighttime feeding and lullaby. Others may start earlier in the evening and might be much longer, including 15 minutes of play, a warm bath, a bedtime story, and more. Once you find a nighttime routine that works for your baby and your family, stick with it!
CREATE A COMFORTABLE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
A cozy, comfy crib and sleep surface can help baby get the sleep he needs. If your little one tends to get warm in his sleep, consider a crib mattress pad with moisture wicking, cooling technology to keep baby cool and comfortable. Mattress pads can also provide waterproof protection and safe added cushioning for toddlers and infants! Having a supportive yet comfortable crib mattress is also important. While it’s essential for newborns to have a firm crib mattress, it is not necessary for a toddler’s bed to be as firm. Dual-sided two stage crib and toddler bed mattresses have an ultra-firm side for infants and a softer, more cushioned side for toddlers.
AND DON’T FORGET, BEDTIME ROUTINES AREN’T JUST FOR KIDS
—they are important for grown-ups too! Establishing a sleeping schedule and sticking to it can help adults fall asleep and stay asleep longer, by helping to regulate their internal clocks. Getting adequate sleep can help boost a person’s immune system, improve memory function, and more. And, similar to children, consider ‘unplugging’ and avoiding electronic screens close to bedtime. Electronics late at night can make you more alert, making it more difficult to fall asleep when you are ready for bed. Consider reading a book or meditating to help you unwind at night. In addition to establishing a sleep routine, the right mattress can be crucial in getting a good night’s rest. Find a mattress that offers the support, firmness, and comfort you need with this helpful mattress buying guide.