Establishing a bedtime routine is one of the best things that you can do to promote healthy sleep habits for your child. When you establish a routine, it helps your child to understand what is to come and the end result is that they protest bedtime less and actually start to enjoy the process of winding down for bed. If your bedtime routine is on point, you can continue the very same routine, with only very small modifications for years and years.
Every single night, it’s important to wash up from the day! For babies, this is a warm bath, or perhaps just a wet wash cloth wipe down before getting into pajamas. As your child gets older, bath time becomes a great transition from playtime to the bedtime routine. Most toddlers love their bath and it’s a great way to get them to transition away from all the fun they are having with their toys, siblings etc.
Once your child is washed up and ready for bed, it’s time for them to have a bottle, breast feed, or if they are older you can offer them a healthy snack. For babies it’s best that they be fed in a well lit space so that they do not fall asleep while feeding. Make sure after they have been fed that they have a few minutes to digest!
Some may think that teeth brushing is only for the kids that already have teeth, but I wholeheartedly disagree! Brushing your infant’s teeth, with a warm wet washcloth or with a silicone super soft toothbrush, is a great habit to start early. Teeth brushing is beneficial for dental hygiene but it also helps the littlest babies break the feed to sleep association which can be quite strong in those early months. If your baby falls asleep on the bottle or at the breast, brushing their “teeth” is a great way to rouse your baby back awake before bed. Another added benefit is that if you are brushing your child’s teeth from infancy, there is less of a chance that they will protest this part of the routine as they get older.
Books are a great way to wind down before bed. For the youngest babies that are nursing, reading is a way for dad or another parent to get involved in the bedtime process. Cozying up in a comfortable spot and listening to stories is relaxing and will help your child wind down before it’s time to go to sleep. Reading before bed can start as soon as you’re home from the hospital, and it can continue on as your child grows older and older. One day your child will be able to read to you before bed- what an amazing turning point!
This part of the routine is optional, but it’s a really nice way to tuck your baby or child in for the night. For infants, this change in tone in your voice is incredibly powerful and it will signal that it’s time for sleep. As your child grows older, it’s really sweet to sing together. Don’t be bashful about singing, or feel nervous about coming up with the perfect song. The ABCs and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are perfect options if singing is not your thing!
After you have completed each of the steps listed above, give your child a kiss goodnight, tell them you love them, and turn off the lights. If you’re using a sound machine, now is a great time to crank up that white noise before walking out of the bedroom. After this final step, your bedtime routine is complete! Goodnight!