Today, we’ll look at how to set up a simple Bed Time routine together.
For many parents bedtime is when we have to use our ninja techniques to get baby to sleep and not wake her up when you put her in the crib. It can also involve a lot of fussing, fighting, tantrums, crying, stalling, etc. That’s NOT a good state of mind for your child to get into right before going to sleep. Setting up a quick and fun bedtime routine might even make you and your child look forward to it!
WHY A BEDTIME ROUTINE IS key to a good night’s sleep
Children (especially babies) thrive on routine and predictability. They like to know what is going to happen next. Trying to hide bedtime from them will only make your child more nervous and agitated.
Imagine your child happily playing one minute, suddenly given a bath, put in her crib and expected to fall asleep. She won’t know what hit her and will have a hard time settling down. Your bedtime routine is a series of steps that you’ll follow every single night so your child knows when it’s time to sleep.
Here are three simple steps for creating a bed time routine that works for you.
MAKE SURE you both enjoy it
What works for others might not work for you. Whatever you do, don’t make your child angry at bedtime! Even though we include a bath in our bedtime routine don’t feel obliged to do the same if your child HATES baths.
If you or your child don’t enjoy a part of the routine, change it.
Make sure your bedtime routine includes only activities you both like so everyone will be in the right mood. This could include any of the following
• Washing face and hands
• Going potty
• Brushing teeth
• Reading books
• Sharing good things about the day
• Listing all the things your child did during the day
• Playing a quiet board game
• Putting on pajamas
• Listening to music
• Singing songs
• Drinking from a sippy cup bottle or nursing
KEEP IT SHORT (And consistent)
According to sleep consultant Dana Obleman your routine should be somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. Why? Because you want it to be long enough to get your child calmed down, relaxed, and ready for sleep.
If your bedtime routine takes too long, you risk letting your child get overtired. That will make falling asleep MUCH more difficult!
Stick to your routine
As in the Seinfeld episode where he has a rental car reservation, but the agency ran out of cars. “The important part is not making a reservation but keeping it.” So when you plan your bedtime routine (today!), but don’t follow it every day, then it’s no longer a routine, is it?
So if you don’t already have a bedtime routine, or you need to make some changes to the one you DO have, just follow the simple steps above.
Nicki and Elee
P.S. Here is our story about how things have improved since we started use our new bedtime routine:
Before our bedtime routine for Noelle involved a bath and then letting her fall asleep while nursing. Afterwards we’d have to try not to wake her before putting her in the crib. Wrong.
The Sleep Sense program taught us to separate feeding from sleeping (more info on our Resource Page). This simple change breaks the link between nursing and falling asleep. It’s such a relief no longer having to tiptoe around the house while Noelle is nursing because we no longer have to worry about waking her.
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