Bedtime Rituals for Your Baby
From the minute you bring your new baby home, establishing bedtime rituals and routines is a smart thing to do.
Bedtime rituals are really nothing more than predictable things that you do each night before you put your baby to bed.
Your baby will quickly learn to recognize these rituals and know that bedtime is coming and that he’s going to be going to sleep.
Rituals and routines are going to make your life with a new baby a little easier when you both know what to expect.
Keep in mind that as your baby gets older you’re going to have to adjust some of these rituals a bit to keep up with his development.
Start Early in the Evening
Your baby should be going to bed quite early so it’s important that you start the nighttime ritual early enough so that you have time to fit it all in without passing the point of time when he should be in bed.
For younger babies, under the age of three months, the bedtime ritual should be kept quite simple and short. Start your routine in the same place and time each night.
For instance, perhaps the first step towards bedtime is having a bath. Try to have some part of your routine take place in your baby’s nursery so that he learns to associate his own room as a pleasant place to be.
This is going to help you in the future when you decide that it’s time for your baby to sleep in his own room.
Bath time is something that many parents incorporate into their baby’s bedtime ritual. Having a warm bath is both relaxing and soothing for your baby.
Play with him until the water starts to get too cold. Then dry him off and give him a good snuggle. For older babies, let him crawl around naked for a few minutes.
He’ll enjoy the feeling of not having any clothes on and this will allow him to get those end-of-the-day wiggles out before he goes to bed. You’ll quickly notice how excited he gets when it’s time for his bath.
He’ll also start to know that bath time is the start towards getting ready for bed and sleep.
Pajamas and Diapers
Once his bath is over it’s time to move on to those things that need to be done before you can tuck him into bed.
This includes brushing his teeth or wiping his gums, putting on that last diaper of the day, and getting into pajamas.
Doing this every night will get him into the habit of being ready for bed and that there should be no fussing when it’s time to get him into his pajamas.
One Last Activity
Once your baby is all ready for bed, come up with one last activity before you settle him down for the night.
Make sure that this is a quiet activity so that you don’t give him too much stimulation right before bed. One good idea is reading a book or two to him.
Let him know, no matter if he’s one-month-old or nine months, that the limit is two books. One of those books can be a sleepy time book that you read every night.
The other book could be a book of his choosing when he’s old enough to grab the one he wants by himself.
Singing to Your Baby
Singing to your baby right before you put him to bed is a great way for the two of you to interact. Lullabies are time-tested ways to soothe your baby before bedtime.
Make sure that you don’t sing and let him fall asleep in your arms. You want to bring him to the edge of sleep without holding him when he sleeps.
Babies need to start learning how to fall asleep on their own and not in your arms. If you’re going to sing to your baby try to sing some of the same songs each night so that he recognizes these as his bedtime ritual.
Finding a bedtime music tape that you both enjoy is a great way to settle him down for sleep.
You can start out by being in the room with him when the music starts. Then turn the volume down a bit and leave him alone to go to sleep.
This can help to ease the transition from him being awake to go to sleep.
Keep the Routine
No matter what you decide you want to do when it comes to bedtime rituals the important thing is that you stick to it.
As much as possible don’t deviate from the routine. Your goal here is to have your baby recognize and understand that it’s now time for him to go to sleep.
Good sleep habits in your baby are going to make both your life and his that much easier. A soothing bedtime routine is going to allow your baby to get the sleep he needs as he grows and develops.