Getting baby into a good bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do for your baby and yourself! It’s never too early to introduce your baby to a bedtime routine. We recommend starting the routine when your baby is very little. It will set up their sleep routine as they grow older.
Babies and children don’t understand the concept of time so their world is measured by the order of events. In their little minds they’re thinking “so what happens next?”. Young children like predictability and will be easier to manage and settle when they already know what’s coming.
Our 7 Step Bedtime Routine is like a “countdown” for your baby so they know what to expect after each step. The steps below are designed to be a guide – you can adjust to suit your own individual baby.
Steps for a New Baby
When baby is a few weeks old you can start to introduce them to the difference between night and day. During the night you should keep the lights dimmed and avoid eye contact and speaking. During the day the house noise should be kept as normal as possible and the room not quite so dark. You can change your baby’s clothes in the morning to show him that it is the start of a new day. When baby is awake you can talk to your baby, play and have some tummy time. Feeding can also be a time to chat so that baby doesn’t nod off in the middle of a feed and want to go back to bed. As baby develops you can follow our 7 Step Bedtime Routine below.
Step 1 – Dinner
Make sure you start the evening meal is early enough so that you stay relaxed and baby is not too tired, otherwise they may be cranky and not feed well. Around 5pm is a good time. Obviously this step would apply to a baby that is starting to eat solid food. If your baby is still young and exclusively milk fed, we recommend giving them a milk feed at this time to ensure that they are feeding as much as possible during the daylight hours from an early age.
Ensure baby receives a balanced diet incorporating all food groups. Avoid sugar and salt – babies taste buds don’t need corrupting at this age. Also you don’t need a sugar high just before bed-time! Give baby a wide variety of nourishing wholesome, simply cooked food that is packed with nutrients and minerals. Remember to introduce new foods one by one to check for allergies.
Step 2 – Bath
I find that bath time is always better after food. As baby starts to tackle solids it can get pretty messy. Bath helps your baby to wind down and most children really enjoy their bath time.
Taking a hot bath helps your baby feel sleepy. It’s the drop in core baby temperature after baby gets out of the bath that helps relax your little one so they’re ready to sleep.
You could offer a massage for baby just before you pop them into their pyjamas. I feel like I could nod off too with a full belly, a nice warm bath and a massage!
Step 3- Milk feed
After the bath you could offer a top up milk feed or bottle. The idea is to make sure baby has a large enough feed to help get them through as much of the night as possible. The next step is to clean baby’s teeth if they have any. It’s never to early to incorporate this step into your routine. For younger babies you can use a soft cloth or toothbrush with water. Do not use toothpaste until baby can be trusted to spit it out. You should do this with baby morning and night.
Step 4 – Wind down time
This could mean just talking to your baby and telling them that we are going to go to sleep now. It’s important to give babies and children warnings of what is going to happen next. Say something like “let’s put our PJs on and start getting ready for bed.
Giving your child a warning of what is to come will give them a cue as to what is going to happen next. At this time avoid stimulating situations such as bright lights or noises such as the television or devices. Keep everything calm and peaceful.
Step 5 – Baby Sleeping Bag/Sleep Sack or Swaddle
Bubbaroo’s range can be a very helpful addition to your baby’s sleep routine. Our Joey Swag Baby Sleeping Bag, Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap and Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle can be used to help cue your little one to sleep. When you put them in their Bubbaroo sleepwear, they know that soon it will be time to go into the cot and settle off to sleep. You can use the Bubbaroo range for all sleeps whether day or night.
Dress your baby for the coldest part of the night. All of our Bubbaroo products come with a what to wear guide so you can easily work out how to dress baby. Our Platinum baby sleeping bags are made from organic 500 thread-count cotton sateen with 1.5TOG and 2.5TOG padded with Australian wool. Wool is a natural insulator keeping your baby at just the right temperature. Always check that baby is not too hot or cold by placing your hand on baby’s chest. The Bubbaroo baby sleeping bag becomes part of your child’s sleep routine. Once they see the sleeping bag, they will begin to recognise that its nearly time to go to bed.
Step 6 – Read a Book
Not only is reading a book a great way to help develop your child’s speech and literacy skills, but it serves another important purpose. Reading is another cue for baby that soon they will be going to bed. This doesn’t mean that every time you read a book, baby should expect a nap. It simply means at night time, once baby has their baby sleeping bag on that they have only a short time until bedtime. Starting literacy early is a huge benefit to your baby. You might like to read our blog Developing Literacy from an Early Age.
Step 7 – Bedtime
Well now it’s time for bed – turn the lights off or dim the lights. Talk in a low voice and make sure the cot is clear of all toys and blankets which could be harmful to baby’s sleep. Give baby a cuddle and place them in the cot. For an older baby you can tell them that it’s time to go to sleep and give them some reassuring pats or stay near them for a moment. For a younger baby you may need to cuddle baby a bit longer so that they are drowsy when you put them down. Caroline’s Angels Baby Sleep Specialists recommend that you encourage your baby to self settle to sleep as much as possible. This means not placing baby in the cot fully asleep but drowsy. The following sleep time recommendations from Caroline’s Angels may be a useful guide for you and your baby:
6-9 months approx 6.30pm
9-12 months approx 6.30 – 7pm
12-18 months approx 7pm
Make your baby’s routine a priority if possible – it is also a great opportunity for some one on one time after the demands of the day. Of course you still need to have a life but if you constantly break the routine, what’s the point of having one? Try to only break the routine for special occasions. You might alter the routine slightly for a special birthday or when travelling on holidays but the sooner you get back on track after the “special occasion” the better.
Remember that over time routines will need to change and adapt. During growth spurts, teething or sleep regressions your baby may be unsettled or change the timing of their usual activities. A lot happens in the first year of life so there will be times when baby adjusts his own routine to eat more, sleep more or less or be a bit fussier than normal. You will also need to adjust the routine as your baby grows. They will start to be awake for longer or go to bed slightly later.
When change happens, try to continue on with the general order of events, perhaps with a few minor adjustments. Your baby will get back on track soon. It will require some strength on your part, but should make life easier in the long run though. Consistency is key – sometimes easier said than done.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely need a bedtime routine. My kids also thrive on a bedtime routine because we all need to wind down after a busy day. Generally speaking a bedtime routine helps a child feel safe and comforted.
When you first introduce the bedtime routine to your baby it might take a little while to get into the sequence of each event but before long it will feel like the new normal.
A bedtime ritual can be very helpful for babies, young children and even older children like mine, heck it’s also helpful for us adults!
Try our 7 Step bedtime routine tonight!
Happy sleeping everyone!