This post was written by Devon Bookman, a fellow mom and sleep consultant in training at Happy Sleeping Baby.
Before I became a mother, routines were foreign to me. Inf act, if you asked anyone who knew me before having my daughter, they would laugh if you asked if I was a routine-oriented person. After having a child, however, I found myself (even more so) living moment-to-moment just to get by. I just didn’t understand how routines could make life so much easier rather than overcomplicate what already felt so exhausting.
Soon, it became my mission to ensure our family got proper rest. I was willing to try anything -- even if that meant changing the way I was wired. So, I hit the books and tuned-in to what the experts were saying. One big theme I noticed was establishing good routines for both day and night.
Simple, yet consistent routines are a good idea to start early on because it helps your baby’s body develop natural sleep/awake rhythms so the right hormones are released at the right times. It also puts less stress on our brains because your child will know what to expect and what happens next. Routines also allow our bodies to better digest food because we are used to eating at certain times of the day. All of this helps your child become naturally ready for sleep. How wonderful!
Establishing day time routines was game-changing for our family, but bedtime routines became equally as important. Think of a bedtime routine as laying down the foundation of a house. If you don’t have a solid foundation, the home will not be steady. The same goes for sleep. If you don’t have a proper routine and the right room environment [read more here about The Best Room Environment For Sleep] sleep may not be steady as well.
Bedtime routines don’t need to take long. Actually, they shouldn’t last more than 30-40 minutes; keep them short and sweet. If any longer, your child may not see the pattern of what the routine means. Patterns help your child’s brain transition into nighttime, but mostly, they help your child make the connection that it’s time to sleep soon.
Here’s a sample routine:
Once your little one starts to grow teeth, you can add-in teeth brushing too. For our family, even if our daughter was clean, we still gave her a warm bath every night. We used soap every other day, or even every few days, so her skin wouldn’t dry out. The consistency of the nightly bath helped wind her down, and soon, she began associating bath time with bedtime.
When I finally did lay her down, in her crib, she eventually became a superstar at falling asleep independently. I owe that a lot to our nightly routine. The trick here is true consistency. Try out a night time routine and give it time, like two weeks. It takes time to learn something new and put together that the bedtime process means sleep. Stay consistent and your baby will soon know what their bedtime means!
Want more information about helping your baby sleep? Use the Happy Sleeping Baby book which has everything you need to know about sleep! Learn more here.
Visit the Parent Resources page for sample schedules and more tips to help your kiddo sleep!