6 Simple Steps to Establish a Bedtime Routine for Baby
Since Hudson was a few months old we started to take the necessary steps to establish good sleep habits and get him into a routine. Now that he is 15 months old, and will be a toddler soon, these steps are even more important as he learns positive associations around sleep and bedtime. Now that he is getting smarter and more independent, its a crucial time to show him who’s in charge, and get him comfortable with his bedtime routine. Obviously the earlier you start the better, even young babies will recognize patterns and it will be easier down the road if routines are established early. Whether your baby is 2 months or 18 months, and even if you’re just starting out, here are some simple steps to establish a successful bedtime routine for baby.
Note: A successful bedtime routine always works better if baby is well fed and has expelled some energy in the early evening. We have been practicing lots of walking before dinner to tire him out. Dinner is usually served an hour before bedtime.
1. Choose the right bedtime.
We started with making 7:00pm our son’s nightly bedtime. You will begin to see signs of when your child is getting tired and you can start by following their lead. Of course some babies are known night owls, but I’m a believer that you need to train your babies to sleep. The 7:00pm bedtime has always worked great for us, however it has become more like 7:45pm/8:00pm lately, because of later daylight hours with summer approaching. Most experts say that between 6:00pm – 8:00pm is the ideal bedtime for your little one, so try to choose a time and stick as close to it as possible.
2. Bath Time or Washing Up Ritual
We don’t do a bath every single night, so on nights that we aren’t giving Hudson a bath, he will wash his face and his little hands in the bathroom. We use warm water and make sure to towel dry him. I usually brush his hair when I am getting him into his pajamas as well. Just like we do, I’m sure babies love to go to bed feeling clean and fresh. Did you know most adults shower in the morning, but showering at night is actually considered better as you are washing away the day and all the environmental toxins on your skin!
3. Teeth Brushing
I have to admit I was a bit of a slacker on this one for quite some time. Especially when I didn’t see many teeth, I would forego the teeth brushing and just promise I would brush his teeth the next night. Every single night we now try to brush (as much as possible) our little guy’s teeth! He has quite the set, so when he opens up wide enough, its easy to get at them. He also loves to chew on his tooth brush. We use Jack & JIll flavorless baby toothpaste (a tiny smudge is all you need). Teeth brushing is important so that baby gets used to it, we really should be making this a morning routine as well!
4. Pajamas & Sleep Sack
Depending on the time of year, we have always used some sort of sleep sack in Hudson’s crib. There’s something so cozy about this wearable blanket that always made me feel at ease. Because it’s become such a routine for him, we usually get him in his pajamas and then pick out a sleep sack depending on the outside temperature. Rarely does he sleep without it. He also has his stuffed lamb and just recently have we started to allow a small blanket as well.
I’m sure this is Hudson’s favorite part of his bedtime routine. He loves books, so we have started allowing him to pick a few books to read each night. We always sit and read the books in the rocking chair in Hudson’s room. I always let him know its the last book or the final one before bedtime. This is probably one of the reasons why he goes down so easily, we have been reading him a book before bed since he was only a week old.
6. Song and Lights out
Once the lights are out and the sound machine or music is playing quiety in the background, one of us always sings him a song before placing him in his crib. My go-to is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and I believe when he hears this tune he knows that I mean business, as in ‘its time for bedtime’. Saying a simple phrase each night as you place baby in the crib is also a great repetition that helps with routine. I always say “Goodnight my love, mommy loves you. See you in the morning!”
Also, having baby sleep in his or her own crib is a must! Looking at crib options? Check out this amazing post from thinkbaby.org
That’s it! That’s our simple bedtime routine. Do you have any bedtime routine tips? Comment below!