If there’s anything I’ve learnt since having my child, it’s the wonderfulness of routines. Children thrive on structure because it helps keep them safe. Knowing what comes next greatly helps to ease their anxiety and makes for happy babies
Although the exactness of each family’s routine varies, even the most conventionally unstructured families, have a method to their madness. Bedtime routines are no different from the overall structure of a baby’s life. In fact, they are a big part of it.
What is a bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine is a series of steps a baby goes through with an adult that helps signify to the baby that sleep time is near. For night-time sleep, this process can take up to an hour thirty minutes- from winding down activities to finally putting your baby in bed.
Why should you have a bedtime routine?
Bedtime routines when carried out consistently, in the exact same steps, let your baby know its time to go to sleep. Bedtime, therefore, becomes less of a struggle as babies follow your lead.
Baths, which are a big part of bedtime routines, help to relax the baby. Sharing a book with your baby before bed is a good chance to bond with them, making them feel even safer. Putting them in their bed while still awake signals to them that they have to put themselves to sleep, rather than rely on any other associations such as rocking motions and being fed, to sleep.
What should my bedtime routine look like?
1. Create a routine around times that best work for your family. For instance, if your 2-year-old needs to be up at 6 am to get dressed for daycare, consider putting them in bed by 6.30 pm as the night time sleep requirement for a 2-year-old is 11-12 hours at night
2. Aim to wind down activities such as playing with toys, watching TV and all other kinds of energetic play, at least an hour to bedtime, preferably 1.5 hours before. The blue light from TV screens (if too close to bedtime) prevents the secretion of melatonin- “the sleep hormone” thereby making it difficult for babies to sleep
3. Bath time is nearly a must as this helps not only to clean your baby from the activities of the day but to also get them relaxed; making them better positioned to sleep easily and for longer
4. Storytime! This is my absolute fave. Babies when sharing a book are so attentive and just want to snuggle up to you. It’s a great way to bond with your baby without needing to feed or rock them to sleep
PS: The exact times in this image are a guide as a 7 pm bedtime may not work for all families. However, take account of your baby’s age and their sleep requirements to determine when they should be going to bed. If your baby is struggling to go to sleep on their own, practice these steps consistently and they’ll eventually get the hang of it
Remember, babies who get the appropriate sleep for their age, display even-keeled energy throughout the day, have better attention and memory and are more creative.
Hang in there, Mamas!