In an ideal world, your baby will sleep through the night with little or no disturbances. But if you aren’t one of those one in a million parents with a miracle sleeper, you may need some help. Cue the bedtime routine – the surest way to guarantee a good night’s sleep for you all
As an adult, you may think routine = boring. Now step into your baby’s world – he loves predictability. From feed times to play times and yes, sleep time, your baby thrives on a routine. And a bedtime routine is a simple one to get in place. It will calm and soothe him, preparing him for (hopefully) a long and peaceful night’s sleep and gives him some special one-on-one time with his favourite person – you.
A routine of sorts can be established as early as six weeks and at around three months old, your baby’s sleep could really benefit from a routine. Working from your baby’s cues, you can see what he likes and what works for him, helping you to get his perfect bedtime routine down to a tee.
Start your baby’s bedtime routine off with a bath – indicating the end of the day’s activities.
‘After washing your baby, change him into his night clothes,’ says Child Sleep Work’s founder, Maryanne Taylor. ‘Unless you’re an advocate of sleeping naked, all the time, chances are this habit is still ingrained.’
Get the room ready
After his bath, bring your baby into the room that he will be sleeping in.
‘Dim the lights to create a quiet and calm atmosphere,’ says Maryanne. ‘Dim lights encourage the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, helping your baby feel drowsy and drift off more easily.’
Soothe and calm
You’ll probably have found your own special way to soothe your baby once he’s in his room.
‘If your baby loves your singing voice, let him be your very own X Factor judge and – softly – sing him your favourite tunes. If even the tiniest can pick up on just how tone-deaf you are, why not try a baby massage or play a lullaby through your phone or a cot mobile.’
Once your baby is settled in his room, it’s time for his pre-bed feed.
‘Try to avoid your baby falling asleep while feeding,’ advises Maryanne. ‘Feed him until he’s full and he’s eyelids start drooping, then put him down.’
Lastly, introduce a story to your baby – a small padded baby book is ideal. This is something that you can build on as your baby gets older. Don’t be shy to act out the parts, but do keep your voice low and soft, so it’s calming as your baby dozes.’