Getting your baby into a bedtime routine can help you both get more sleep and is worth every effort. Although it may take time for your baby to recognize the pattern, consistency is the key to establishing a bedtime routine that truly helps your baby settle into bedtime and fall asleep. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your bedtime routine.
A warm bath can help relax your baby and ease into bedtime. Gently massaging baby while cleaning can help calm them and using a bedtime lotion, like lavender, could also be helpful. In time baby will start to associate bathtime with bedtime and it will help him/her wind down.
Long before your baby even has teeth you can prepare him/her for success by establishing a routine of gently wiping the gums. As teeth start coming in, you can use a gentle toothbrush and baby toothpaste or gel to keep them clean. Starting as young as possible will make this a regular habit your baby expects and maintains.
Bedtime stories and songs become childhood memories and traditions. Choose a bedtime story with imagery that will captivate your baby but also has a sweet message. In time your baby will recognize and show excitement when shown this book, and likely continue asking for it and reading it as he/she grows. This also helps establish a positive relationship with reading that can help encourage literacy as baby grows. My babies both love the book, “I love you, stinky face”. When they were really little I would simply point out the images and colors, and maybe read or paraphrase the pages, but as they grew and I read the story to them they grew to love it and request it.
Sing the same song or couple of songs every night. You will be surprised how early babies recognize songs, tunes, and patterns.
I worked as the music teacher at a child development center and sang, “This little light of mine,” to every class, every week, including the infant class. After only a few months, they would smile after only hearing a few words of the song, and by the time they were 1-year old, they would hold their fingers up, cover them, blow them out, and say “light” or other words along with me as I sang. Music is a source of comfort and familiarity so it won’t be long until those songs become a source of comfort for your baby, which they may very well remember their whole lives.
Do you still remember the songs your parents sang to you as a child? What do you incorporate into your baby’s bedtime routine?