You’re likely in a phase where nighttime heralds a combination of crafty manoeuvres to lull your baby to sleep. On some days, it may seem like your baby is pre-programmed to turn theatrical as the clock strikes eight. If this sounds all too familiar, you should know that you’ve got company. Every newbie mom out there has been in your shoes. But tucking your baby in for the night isn’t as daunting as you may think. By establishing a soothing bedtime routine for your child, you can send your little one off to the land of Nod without the usual everyday rigmarole.
Importance of a Bedtime Routine
Why bother with a bedtime routine, you may ponder. You see, babies, just like adults, love predictability and by establishing a soothing bedtime pattern, you can ease your little one into a state of slumber more easily. A pattern leading up to bedtime serves as a subtle clue to your baby that it’s almost time to lay down. Additionally, a bedtime pattern can serve as a beautiful way for you to spend time with your baby to round off a long day. You could use this time to read to her, cuddle her and hum soothing lullabies to her. The end of the day is likely the most quality time you’ll have to spend with your little darling, so it’s wise to combine it with a well-crafted bedtime routine.
Tips for an Effective Bedtime Routine
If you’re wondering just how to implement a nightly routine for your little tyke, follow this simple guide to get you started.
Wait Until Your Baby Is Old Enough
Like you, your baby will take time to adjust to a new nightly routine, so remember to make the adjustment gradual. Your precious little bundle of joy will likely spend much of her time sleeping in the first few days after coming home, especially because she will be so tired from making her tiny appearance into the world. This is the perfect time for you to make up for lost sleep too, although you’ll find that your newborn’s sleep pattern is broken down into many, standalone stretches, each lasting only a couple of hours. It will take a number of weeks before you notice a sleep pattern taking form. That’s when you can really get started on acquainting your little bundle with a bedtime pattern.
Keep a Bedtime Log
It’s wise to note down your baby’s sleep cycles in a little log that you can keep in your bedside drawer. Here’s why. By jotting down the stretches and intervals at which your baby sleeps, you will be able to gauge when your baby sleeps best. Let’s say that you find that your little one’s longest nap lasts from 7pm to 10pm, you can schedule your nightly routine around 6.30 p.m, to coincide with your baby’s optimal sleep window. By maintaining a bedtime log, you’ll be better equipped to design a bedtime sequence for your baby that is aligned with her sleep pattern.
When you decide that you want to introduce a nighttime ritual, take your time to plan it well. Take a month or so to introduce your little darling to the bedtime charms that you would like to include in your routine. Elements such as a comforting bath, tender massages and a warm feed, either from the breast or the bottle, work wonders. You could even read a short book or sing some soothing songs to your baby. The hum of your voice will lull your baby to sleep, and she’ll learn to recognise your voice as a source of comfort. Regardless of the ingredients you choose for the bedtime routine, remember to keep the mix consistent. Over time, your little one will come to associate these rituals with bedtime.
Lay Your Baby Down Before She’s Asleep
Usually, about three-quarters of the way through your routine, your little sleepyhead will be on her way to the land of all things dreamy. If you can manage it, try laying her down before she nods right off. This way, she will be comfortable falling asleep without being in your arms, so if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she may find her way back to dreamland on her own. Also, allowing your baby to slumber on her own will help when she is older, saving you the trouble of soothing her to sleep every night. Of course, every baby is different, and tucking yours in before she’s asleep may result in a premature meltdown. But it’s definitely worth trying out to make your little one more independent.
Tweak the Bedtime Routine to Suit You
A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be restricted to the evening. By adding cues from the routine to the naptimes scattered through the day, you can establish a standard sleep pattern for your little one. You don’t have to go the whole mile with the routine every time. Pick one or two elements that your baby favours to ease her into a nap.
Sleep training isn’t a standard procedure that fits every baby like a mitten. Your baby, for instance, may not take to a warm bath right before bedtime. Or there may be another element of the nightly routine that she finds disturbing. Tweak your baby’s sleep pattern after observing her response to various rituals. When you’ve tailored a pattern that suits her, you’ll see that not only will your little darling sleep better, but you will too.