Mother and Baby

Your Straight-To-Sleep Baby Bedtime Plan

Section: Sleep

Get your routine right and you can wave tatty bye to tears at bedtime. Here’s the magic night-time formula hour by hour.

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5.30pm: Quiet time

Close the curtains, dim the lights and keep noise to a minimum. Avoid stimulating games or the television. This will signal to newborns that it’s evening while toddlers will get the message it’s close to bedtime and begin winding down. [Corbis]
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6pm: Bathtime

Splashing in the bath will help your little one burn off some energy and help calm her before bed. Baths are also a wonderful sedative. The drop in body temperature after the bath helps to trigger the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, so your child should settle more easily. [Corbis]
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6.20pm: Pyjama time

Get her nappy and pyjamas on in the bedroom, with the lights dimmed, rather than taking her downstairs again, which she’ll associate with daytime and play. [Alamy]
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6.30pm: Supper time

Give the last feed of the day while your baby is relaxed but still alert. She’s less likely to fall asleep during feeding, so will learn to settle by herself in the night rather than cry for you. [Corbis]
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6.40pm: Story time

Even babies as young as three months will enjoy listening to you read before bed. This should be more about having a cuddle and being calmed by your soothing voice rather than a terribly exciting story. Keep your voice low and avoid engaging older children too much by pointing at pictures or asking questions. [Alamy]
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6.50pm: Cuddle time

A cuddle before bed helps children feel safe and loved. It also boosts levels of the hormone oxytocin, which relaxes the entire body and promotes sleep. [Corbis]
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7pm: Bedtime

Tell your little one it’s time to sleep and place her in her cot. It’s helpful to whisper the same words every night. That way, your child will come to associate these words with sleep. Up to three months, it’s best to stay in the room if your little one cries. After this, leave the room and listen to any cries. If you can hear her winding down, give it a few minutes and she’ll probably settle. If not, return to the room, say, ‘Mummy’s here, ssshh, ssshh’, before leaving the room again. Repeat if you need to. [Corbis]
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10-11pm: Dream feed

Some parents top up their baby with a feed at this time, which your little one will take in her sleep. This can be done without waking your baby and will extend the length of time she sleeps during the night. You can stop once your baby is weaned. [Corbis]
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2am: Wake time

If your little one wakes up at an unscheduled time in the night, don’t be too quick to run to her, especially if she’s older than six months. Leave it a couple of minutes when she cries and you may find she settles by herself. If not, keep the lights dimmed, give her a cuddle, soothe her with words, then return her to her cot. Keep your voice low and she should soon settle again. [Corbis]

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