It is every mom’s dream to have a baby that goes to bed early and falls asleep instantly.
Well, it doesn’t have to be just an unfulfilled fantasy.
A lot of moms have hacked the secret to have their little one happily snoozing by 7 pm.
What is this big secret, you might be asking?
The key here is to create a consistent baby bedtime routine.
A set of actions that you repeat every evening. This leads to your baby connecting these cues to going to sleep.
Your routine should be around 30 to 45 minutes long. This gives your baby plenty of time to realize what is going on and start to feel sleepy.
The bedtime routine may include bathtime, reading a story, or turning the white-noise machine on.
It is crucial that you repeat these action steps in the same order, every evening at the same time. This way your baby will associate them with going to sleep. After practicing the routine for some time you should notice that your little one starts to be drowsy even before you finish.
Don’t rush it, this is time to unwind. Your baby will notice if you are in a hurry or a bit stressed and won’t fully relax.
Also, be flexible about your routine. You might notice, that the system you’ve put in place is not working. In that case, feel free to try something different. Every baby is unique and will need a bedtime routine suited to her needs.
Why Your Baby Needs a Bedtime Routine
As the National Sleep Foundations says: “The repetitive nature of a parent’s exact actions before bed is very powerful.”
It is simply the best tool to get your baby asleep fast and at the same time each day.
A bedtime routine also helps your newborn to sleep through the night.
Plus it is a wonderful time you get to spend with your sweet pea every evening. No distractions.
It is important for your baby to develop healthy sleeping habits at a young age.
If implemented well, you can use a very similar bedtime routine up to the age your child starts going to school.
This little set of habits can save you a ton of time by avoiding the agonizing evenings when the baby just won’t go to sleep.
A healthy and well-implemented bedtime routine will serve as a cue for your child to feel sleepy. His little brain will make the connections between the performed activities and going to bed.
Your little one will probably fall asleep as soon as you put him in his crib and close the door.
How to Implement a Bedtime Routine
Start by observing your baby.
When does she naturally feel sleepy?
What are some cues that you can build upon?
Is she sleepy when you sing a lullaby?
Does she start yawning when you are swaddling her?
Does she get drowsy when she hears a soothing background noise?
You can implement all of these things into your own personalized baby bedtime routine.
Next, think about the time.
When do you want to start your routine?
Are you committed to performing this set of actions every day at the same time?
By what time do you want your baby to be fast asleep?
A common bedtime routine takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Any shorter just wouldn’t be enough for your baby to start feeling sleepy and any longer would just make your baby cranky.
Do your routine every evening. It is fine if you don’t see any result after the first couple of days but give it at least a week or two.
If your baby doesn’t seem to pick up on these cues, try something else. Observe your baby again and try to find out what is it that doesn’t agree with her.
Maybe reading a bedtime story makes her too excited, try a soft lullaby instead.
Finetune your routine until you find what works best for your baby.
Ideas for Your Baby Bedtime Routine
1. Set a time and be consistent
It is important to be consistent with your bedtime routine. You need to give your baby’s little brain time to create the associations.
Don’t give up just after a few days. Give it at least a week or two.
Consistency is key.
Start your routine at the same time every day.
Take this time to truly connect with your baby and protect this special time you will create together.
2. Keep a low stimulation
A good cue for your baby could be even just talking in a lower voice.
Lower the lights, lower the sounds, lower all the stimulation around. This will help your child to truly start relaxing.
Everything is new and exciting for a newborn baby, so any noise, any object, any person could be a potential distraction.
Dim the lights in the nursery, talk in a soothing voice or play some soft music and your baby will become drowsy before you even finish your bedtime routine.
3. Have a soothing bath
A warm soothing bath sets the perfect atmosphere before bedtime.
It is peaceful and calming.
It also helps to relax the muscles so it should help your baby to fall asleep easily.
Naturally, a bath isn’t something you would like to do every day, especially with a newborn. Tapping a warm cloth on your baby’s body might just have a similar effect on those days when you are not giving him a bath.
4. Do a massage with lotion
It helps to relax their muscles and create a deep connection with their caregiver.
The lotion can help you with that soothing effect and it will keep your baby’s skin nice and hydrated.
Make gentle sweeps over their tummy and rub down their legs and feet with your hands.
5. Make the room dark
It is important to keep the room your baby sleeps in as dark as possible.
It helps your baby’s little brain to distinguish between day and night.
As we said before, any stimulation can catch your baby’s attention and prevent her from falling asleep.
Babies are used to being in total darkness that was in the womb, so invest in some quality curtains to simulate this feeling.
6. Turn the white noise on
Speaking of the womb, there is another great hack you might consider using.
White noise is so soothing for babies because it reminds them of the sounds they used to hear in your belly.
It just works like pure magic.
It could be any background noise from a soft summer rain to a vacuum cleaner.
You can consider buying a white noise machine or download a white noise app on your phone.
7. Swaddle or change into pajamas
Swaddling your baby may be a calming part of the bedtime routine, too.
If your child is older, swap this part for a pajama change.
Try to keep this time soothing and relaxing.
Make your baby understand that she is going to bed soon.
This little transition ritual can be very powerful because you are changing your little munchkin into their “sleeping gear”.
8. Read a bedtime story
Nothing reminds us of our own childhood more than a bedtime story.
There is a reason it is one of the most beloved traditions – to read to your child before bedtime.
This is another action that creates a strong connection between a child and his parent.
Try to read at least a couple of pages.
Your little one will start yawning in no time.
9. Sing a lullaby
You can sing a lullaby once they lay in bed or even during bathtime or while changing them into their pajamas.
Anyway, a lullaby is a soothing song that works miracles.
This can be just the cue you need to send your beloved baby right into sleepy land.
10. Say goodnight
A good cue you can teach your baby is just a goodnight phrase you will use every night right before you leave her room.
A simple “goodnight” or “it’s sleepy time now” will work like a magic formula if you repeat it every single time.
A toddler could also say goodnight to her toys and other things in her room.