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Establishing Bed Time Routines
Starting A Bed Time Routine Early For Baby Will Have You All Sleeping Better Sooner

Establishing Bed Time Routines

The sweet smell of your newborn and gentle fuss that is just too cute will melt your heart and have you willing to do just about anything for this precious baby. From the beginning you will forever put your baby first before your own needs. It is our natural instinct to protect life. Fast forward two or three months and you are exhausted, the baby will not sleep more then an hour, her cute sweet whimper is turning into a loud pitch. If she could only sleep a four hour stretch maybe, just maybe you could take a shower. Sound familiar?

I will not claim to have the magic answer here, but it is well known advice that you should establish quiet hours, lights low time and a bed time routine that helps baby predict the upcoming night time. Believe it or not, establishing a bed time routine from day 1 is the key to good sleeping habits for years.

Here are some simple tips to establishing a nighttime routine.

1. Starting early around 6pm begin a routine that will have baby sleeping by 7pm. A one hour routine. Now I understand that this schedule will not fit every situation so please adjust it as you need to, but give yourself a one hour routine before bedtime. The earlier the better for your babies even if they are not sleeping through the night. Keeping the baby up until 11pm hoping that will tire them out is simply going to backfire on you.

2. Establish a routine that fits for you. Example: Bath, Play, Pajamas, Bottle (nursing), Book, Cuddles, Music. This means you start an hour before bedtime with a soothing bath. While dressing baby in pajamas play peek a book, or sing silly songs like the Itsy Bitsy Spider. The key here is gentle interaction one on one with baby and parent. Nursing or giving a bottle before bed insures that you are putting them down with a full belly. This does not mean they wont need to feed again during the night or in one hour, but it does establish a good routine for when they are able to cut out that midnight feeding. While you are feeding baby tell a story, sing a song or read a favorite book. When the bottle is finished burp baby and cuddle, talking softly. After a few minutes turn on some baby lullaby music really softly, and lay them down sleepy, but awake.

3. Keep the lights turned down low. If you have a night light in the nursery this is the perfect amount to sooth baby to sleep and establish nighttime from daytime play. The noise level in the house should be quieter, tv down or off, lights down low. Voices should be quieter almost a whisper by the time the story is over. You are creating a soothing quiet atmosphere, even if you have hours of house work to do yet.

By keeping to this routine from day 1 you will begin to help baby learn self soothing, calmness at bedtime. As baby gets older they will learn that after bath time is over is one on one quiet time with mommy or daddy. They will begin to get sleepy naturally if you are consistent with these routines.

So I have established the bedtime routine and the baby wakes up at 10pm wanting to feed. How do I handle that?

Keep the lights down low, quiet voice, do not try and interact with your baby. This does not mean you dont say Hi, and speak gently, it just means this is not play time and mommy is just caring for your needs. Change the diaper in as little light as possible, keep the lights as low as possible and do your best to keep from engaging your baby. Tomorrow after 5am is soon enough to have consistent play time with mommy.

No matter how many times baby wakes during the night to feed, keep the lights low and the voices quiet. Doing this will help baby see a difference between waking at night and waking up from naps during the day.

During the day you should keep lights on, noise as usual and have fun interactive play time. By doing this you are showing baby the proper responses to day time and night time and setting her up for healthy sleep patterns. 

I understand how exhausting those first few weeks and months can be. My first babies were twins and I followed these suggestions to the max. I had them sleeping through the night by 7 weeks. Does this mean your baby will sleep through as easily? Not necessarily. However, by establishing routines you help your baby adjust to life outside the womb and learn what happens when night time comes around.

How do you suggest these things to a new mom? I was given a beautiful gift basket when my babies were born that included everything I would need for establishing those night time routines as well as a book that gave me these helpful suggestions. In the gift basket was a bottle of baby bath time lavender scented wash, hooded towel, swaddling blanket, a board book and lullaby CD that had a heart beat background. It was the best gift I ever received.

There are many gifts like this in our baby gift section, or make your own personalized gift and give the new parents a piece of sage advice with your gift.