Setting a predictable sleeping routine for your baby is beneficial for both parents and children. Parents find it easier to plan and manage their day, while babies learn to relax and fall asleep faster even in unfamiliar environments. While you can start figuring out what works the best for your baby as soon as you bring him home, bedtime rituals usually start working when the baby is at least 6 weeks old. By that time children start sleeping a bit less during the day and sleep longer during the night. In fact, some babies can go throughout the night without waking up when they reach three months of age.
Some tricks can help you in teaching your baby to recognize the bedtime rituals. There are things that you can use that the baby will associate with sleeping as well as there are things that you can do to relax your baby and prepare him to sleep.
The following are the things that the baby can learn to link with sleep:
- Pacifier: there are conflicting opinions on the use of a pacifier at night, however, it seems the pacifier provides more advantages than disadvantages. As the baby is sucking on the binky, he learns to self-soothe and unwinds for the sleep.
- Favorite object: you can use an object to develop an association with going to bed and sleeping. For example, you can give your baby the same soft toy when he goes to sleep. Do not allow your baby to play with it during the day to establish an association.
- Sleeping clothes: a part of the sleeping routine can be changing your baby into a familiar sleeping ensemble, such as a onsie or pajamas.
Besides providing your baby with familiar object for the bedtime, you can also do the same activities with your baby:
- Bath: in most cases, babies love bathing. Being in warm water and in the company of their parent gives baby a very comforting feeling. In fact, so much so that some babies could even fall asleep while being bathed! While babies do not need to be washed every day, you should still wash their faces, hands, feet and private parts before calling it a day.
- Massage: an equally relaxing experience for your baby is getting a massage. There are a lot of online video tutorials that you can watch – baby massage is easy to learn and beneficial for a baby. You can choose to use lavender or chamomile oil to help your baby get sleepy.
- Lullabies: you can sing a lullaby for your baby to help him fall asleep. Some mothers prefer to sing several songs, changing them daily and then finish with the same ‘goodbye’ song. If you are not confident about your singing skills, you can download some songs to your phone or baby monitor that are sung professionally – however, there is nothing better than your voice for your baby. You can also choose to play calming music instead of singing a lullaby.
- Reading: many parents believe that they should start reading bedtime stories to their children when they are older but you do not need to wait until a certain age to start reading. The baby will listen to your voice, which has a calming effect, and hear new words, which helps with language and cognitive development. It is up to you what to choose for reading – you can pick some short stories or reread your favorite childhood book.
Whatever routine you choose to establish with your child, a couple more tips will help you on the way. First, always do the bedtime rituals in the bedroom so that the baby learns the place where he sleeps. And second, if your baby sleeps in his own bed, move him there while he is half-awake so that he feels safe there and is less susceptible to separation anxiety.