Sleep savvy parents know that, when it comes to bedtime, consistency is key because kiddos of all ages thrive on routine (PS: adults do, too!). With daily rituals, your baby’s brain and body learn to associate specific actions with specific behaviors. Keep at it long enough and your wee one will start to recognize cues. A warm bath and a lullaby? Must be time to call it a night!
If your family already has a sleep routine down pat, then yay! If not, check out the ideas below on how to build better bedtime habits. Some parents keep it short and simple - 20 minutes max - while others spend an hour or longer ushering their kids to the land of nod. (Disclaimer: Babies are fickle little creatures, so we can’t guarantee a blissful, uninterrupted night’s sleep every time you stick to your regimen. But experts agree that sleep routines are the key to the best bedtimes!)
#1 – Use Mood lighting.
No matter the length of your Sleep SOP (standard operating procedure), use soft lamplight throughout the house. Artificial light can hamper our body’s ability to create melatonin (the sleep hormone!), so limit TV and electronics for at least an hour before bedtime, too.
#2 – Maximize Melatonin.
Kids (over age two) who struggle with sleep might benefit from a child’s sleep supplement containing melatonin. Look for supplements made without high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. If it’s a gummy, you can offer it up as an after-dinner treat!
#3 – Trust the Tubby.
Who doesn’t love a warm, sudsy end to the day? Your baby certainly does. Bonus points if there are bubbles, bath toys, a tear-free shampoo and body wash (especially if it has a calm-inducing scent!), and a fluffy hooded towel awaiting them at the end.
#4 – Moisturize and Massage.
Once they’re dried off, pamper your cutie with a mini massage using a gentle baby lotion or natural body oil.
#5 – Rock-a-bye Baby.
If your baby loves the soothing effect of rocking or bouncing (c’mon - who doesn’t?), sneak in a cuddle session while they relax into the familiar sway.
#6 – Tell a Tall Tale.
Bond with your child by reading a bedtime story. Books with soft color palettes, simple storylines, and gentle rhymes are all great choices. If your kiddo is old enough, let them choose their favorite so they’ll always have something to look forward to come evening.
#7 – Soothe with a Song.
Some parents like to sing a familiar tune or lullaby to their children right before lights out. This is a sweet and calming way to intro songs from your own childhood - and when they’re older they can join in if they’d like!
#8 – Snuggle Something Soft.
Most kids have a beloved blankie, stuffed animal, or bedtime companion - and heaven forbid the day one of these treasures goes missing (for that reason, consider keeping a spare tucked away to prevent future meltdowns!). Help your baby relax at night by keeping their favorite comforts on standby. Though if your baby is under 18 months be sure to leave blankets and stuffed animals out of the crib for now!
#9 – Make Some (White) Noise.
A busy street, barking dog, or noisy television can sabotage even the most fool-proof sleep routine. White noise or sound machines are valuable sleep aids once your wee one has finally dozed off. If you don’t have one yet, there are a plethora of options. Read up on the reviews so you can select the right one for you and your baby.
#10 – Keep Your Cool.
When bedtime arrives, our parental fuel tanks are typically running on fumes. If your littles can’t keep their lids shut and leave you alone, try not to let it ruffle your feathers. Keep calm and carry on because they respond to your energy. Take deep breaths. Use a calm, quiet voice. Radiate peace ;)
When your child inevitably wakes up during the night with a dirty diaper or the need to feed, keep the lighting dim, use your softest, most soothing voice, and avoid eye contact. They’ll be more likely to fall back asleep - and so will you!
Do you have tips for baby bedtime routines? We would love to know what you do (and our community would, too)!! Please share in the comments :)
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