Creating a bedtime routine for your baby is a really essential part of getting them into a sleeping pattern and consistent daily routine. Keeping it simple and regular can set up their sleeping pattern in the future and may even prevent sleeping problems later on.
But aside from all of that, it’s also a really lovely way to bond with your baby – a chance to spend some soothing one on one time with them as the day winds down and you and your partner are both really present there with them. By having a pattern that is consistent, your baby will learn the cues and hints that it’s time to settle down and sleep for the night, a useful learning and developmental tool.
Here are some soothing actions and techniques you can use to incorporate into your baby’s bedtime to routine to send them gently and peacefully off to sleep.
Give them a bath
Baths can be super fun with all the toys and splashing and learning in the bath, but an evening bath can be a really lovely time of calm for you baby – just like it can be for you! Have the bath at a warm and suitable temperature and get all clean and ready for bed. Wrapping them up all cosy and clean afterwards will make them feel great and while they’re bathing you get some one-on-one time with them to give them your undivided attention.
Read books to them
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. The soothing, sing-song sound of your voice – as long as it doesn’t get too boisterous – can be really relaxing and make them feel safe and cared for. Plus, reading is an inherently relaxing activity and can help with their development to hear rhyming words and phrases.
Bottle or breastfeed
The ultimate soothing evening activity, depending on your feeding schedule of course feeding them before bed can settle them in for a good few hours down without waking up hungry. It can make them warm and full and sleepy, all great states for settling in for a nice long nap.
Give a baby massage
This technique is something it may take baby a while to get used to and to see if they like it. But it can be a really relaxing experience for many babies. It’s a really good opportunity for you to practice skin-to-skin time with them too. Try starting out with just gentle, simulating strokes along the legs to see how they react and get used to it the first few times before trying anything else. Ensure you have a soft surface beneath them and a good quality, gentle baby cream.
Talk to them
Similarly to reading to them, speaking with baby can help calm them as your voice is a sound that is synonymous with security and love. It’s good for their language development to hear the cadences and rises and falls of conversation, the reaction and response that is expected. It can make you feel more connected to one another too to have a talk before bed.
Cuddling or rocking
Skin on skin, or wrapped up in their cosy pyjamas or swaddle, the cuddling will make them feel safe and loved and the warmth will have them drifting off in no time. Rocking is also soothing and the repetitive movement will have them calming down and being soothed into sleep.
Nighttime diaper, pyjamas or sleep swaddle
Whatever combo you use, be sure to be consistent with them if you can. Just like certain sounds are associated with bed time, so are certain feelings. The soft material of their pyjamas, the security of their swaddle – these things eventually begin to register with them and become part of the night time routine, meaning when they feel these feelings that it’s time for bed.
Have ‘goodnight’ cues
Certain words, turning on the night light or the mobile, having a certain lullaby you sing when it’s time for bed – it’s all about association. Feelings, sounds, smells can all put them in the right mindset and can even be continued into toddler-hood to set the tone for bed time. Creating this routine and repeating it consistently is the real trick.