From a very young age, babies start to form and understand habits. They know and understand that it’s time to eat, when mom takes them to the rocking chair. Babies have a keen sense of smell and remember lots of things based on their smells and the way they feel like a favorite blanket or a toy.
Because of these things, it is highly recommended by many experts in the field to start a bedtime routine with your child at a very young age. Implementing a bedtime routine will help your child start to learn that when you start the bedtime routine that means it is time to settle down and wind down for the day.
She will know that soon it will be time to sleep. Even for babies as young as a few weeks old, they know and can understand a routine and what it means.
You can structure your bedtime routine any way you like, but the important thing is to keep it the same or very similar every night when you put your newborn to bed. It is also important to do the bedtime routine at almost the same time every night.
This will help to set the internal clock of your little one, so she knows and understands about what time is bedtime every night. She will start to feel sleepy without you needing to coax her.
This bedtime routine is something that you will keep for years. Although some things you will drop out of the routine and other things you will add into the routine, the general ideas of the routine will stay the same.
You might also adjust the time frame as your child gets a little older, but the idea of a nighttime routine will stay the same.
Here are few things you might want to consider implementing in your nighttime routine.
Most newborns love their baths. It will take one or two for them to get used to the water, so don’t be alarmed when they hate it at first.
However, after a few baths, she will probably love bath time. It reminds them of being in the womb. Enjoy bath time with your little one. It is a fun time to relax and let her discover new things.
There are so many fun stories for babies today. Even when your baby is just a few weeks old you can introduce her to the world of books by reading her a short story each night.
There are books that are interactive and have her touching and feeling different textures or seeing all kinds of different shapes and colors. The possibilities are endless.
This is a great habit to start with your child early, because as they get older, you’ll want them to already be excited about reading since studies have shown this is an important skill to have even in young toddlers and children.
Singing Lullabies or Songs
Although this isn’t a time for a dance party, it’s a great time to sing quiet songs or lullabies. Any activity you choose to do during the bedtime routine should be calming and help keep the tone of the house relaxed rather than wild and excited.
The songs you choose should be those that bring this kind of mood and tone. You can choose to sing these songs yourself, or obviously there are plenty of other methods you can play them for your baby, too.
Rock and Snuggle Your Baby To Sleep
Some babies love to be snuggled and rocked. After bath time and when she is in her pajamas in a wonderful time to hold your baby and rock her gently in your arms in a rocking chair, just in a regular chair, or even just standing up.
The only caution we would give about adding this into your nightly routine is not letting her fall asleep in your arms as you rock her. It could be a temptation, since it is so easy for her to fall asleep this way, but if she becomes accustomed to falling asleep in your arms, she will never fall asleep any other way except in your arms.
You will always have to rock her in order for her to fall asleep, which is a nightmare for you. You want to teach her to fall asleep on her own.
Feeding Your Baby Right Before Bed
Most babies will need to eat before they go to sleep as part of their bedtime routine. If this is the last feeding of the day, you’ll want it to be the biggest if at all possible in order to sustain your baby through the night for as long as possible.
Like we mentioned and talked about before, smaller babies will probably still need a feeding probably once or twice through the night until they are three or four months old.
Similar to rocking and snuggling your baby, you will want to make sure that your baby doesn’t fall asleep while eating. This is also an easy thing to let happen, but a tough habit to break later on down the road, so try your hardest not to start now and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
According to both pediatricians and pediatric dentists it is very important that you don’t let your baby fall asleep with either the bottle or on the nipple because it allows your baby to have milk or formula pooling along their gums and teeth. This can and will cause dental hygiene problems for them even from the very beginning of their young life.
So even though they don’t have any teeth yet, by letting them fall asleep while eating, you could be causing problems for your baby’s oral health.
Usually your bedtime routine should be sometime between seven and eight. Try to plan the routine around a feeding time that will work with your routine.
The feeding will probably be the last thing you do with the routine and then you’ll put your baby down to sleep. As you probably noticed with the last chapter, early on, you might have a feeding at 8: 00 PM and another feeding again at 10: 30 PM.
It’s a good idea to start implementing the nighttime routine with the 8: 00 feeding and not the 10: 30 feeding, because eventually you’ll want the 8: 00 feeding to be your baby’s normal bedtime, not 10: 30. The 10: 30 feeding, even though necessary to get her through the night, is not part of the nighttime routine.
So go ahead and start your nighttime routine at seven, giving her a bath, reading her a story, etc. and then feeding her at 8: 00 and putting her to bed. Then at 10: 30, quietly wake her up, but keep the room dark. Only wake her enough to feed her and then put her directly back to sleep. Then hopefully you can be in bed shortly after eleven. If she will give you a full six or seven hours after that feeding you’ll get to sleep until somewhere around five. In the world of having a newborn that’s a good night’s sleep!
The nighttime routine you’ll choose should be one of the best parts of your day. It should be relaxing both for you and your baby. You should enjoy the time you spend together and wind down from the chaos and stress of the day.
Enjoy the peace and quiet of the nighttime together as you prepare your newborn for bedtime.