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This is the ultimate guide for creating a bedtime routine for infants.
The definition of a routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Research supported idea: Babies need consistent and predictable environments to help them feel safe.
You want your baby’s bedtime routine to be CONSISTENT and PREDICTABLE.
Here is an example of an infant bedtime routine that I am currently using with my 7 month old baby.
The bedtime routine is going to be affected by the rest of the baby’s day, so hopefully you have a daytime schedule for your baby as well. You want to make sure that your baby has enough to eat during the day and that they took the amount of naps that they need during the day so that they can sleep their best at night. An overtired baby will be fussier and take longer to get down to sleep at night.
If your baby is on solid foods, be aware of the types of foods that you feed your baby late in the day. Certain types of foods may upset your babies tummy at night or make them poop.
6:00 begin bedtime routine: Pick a time that works for you to begin your bedtime routine each night. Ideally, 2 hours before you want your baby to actually be asleep. For me, this was 6:00. Beginning at 6:00 you want to be aware of the types of stimulus that your baby is getting from the environment. At this time you want to turn off all of the televisions and dim the lights in the house. Be aware of your voice tone and try to have a calming tone of voice rather than a playful one with your baby.
6:30 bath: Be aware of the lighting in the bathroom, you want it to be bright enough to see but dim. You want to set the mood for your babies bedtime. A nice way to do this is to put some lavender essential oil in a diffuser in the room where you are giving your bath. Sometimes you may not feel like giving your baby a bath but if you can make yourself do it you will thank yourself later. The key to getting yourself to actually give your baby a bath is to have a bathtub set up that makes it easy on you. If you are struggling leaning over the bathtub trying to make sure your baby is not slipping and sliding you are not going to be able to stick with the every night bath routine. Here are some bathtubs that I recommend for different ages/home set ups:
0-3 months baby in a small bathroom sink: you could use this tub
0-3 months baby in a half farmhouse sink: you could use this tub
0-3 months in a farmhouse size sink: this tub
When babies can start to sit up with a little help these tub seats are game changers and make life a lot easier
These kneeler pads can also save you serious pain from kneeling at the bath tub
Taking a bath with your baby on occasion is a nice bonding and relaxing activity for both mom and baby but obviously not something you want to do every night. If you have had a long day with your baby and you are feeling stressed but still have a while before you put your child to bed, put your baby in the bathtub with you and let them splash and play around, it is a win win for everyone! When getting out of the bath with your baby, I suggest you place a towel on a bouncing chair and then place the baby on the bouncing chair while you dry off.
7:00 lotion massage: turn calming bedtime music (this CD is my favorite) on and put lotion (this is my favorite) on baby. Infant Massage is very good for babies brains. This video shows you how to do infant massage to help your baby calm and help their brain grow.
7:10 bottle then snuggles & rocking with music, then bed (sometimes my baby is asleep by 7:30 and sometimes it takes him a little long until 8)
*Remember: Try to keep as many things the same as you can (the same music, the same room, the same bed, the same time etc)
*Since my baby was born I have played the same song each night at bedtime (I just recently introduced the calming CD I listed above). No matter where I am, if I play this song I swear my baby starts to yawn. He knows that this song means bedtime. I use this song and now the CD as well for putting my baby down for naps during the day. Creating strong sleep associations in the brain is the KEY!
I hope you and your baby enjoy trying this calming bedtime routine! 🙂