One of the first things new parents need to figure out is how to establish a nighttime routine for the baby. Babies respond to familiar patterns and there are several things you can do to set a sleep routine for your child which will soothe them into sleep. Here are some tried and tested ways.
Establishing routines before bedtime
Child development experts recommend that you help your baby make ‘sleep associations’ by using a calming ritual before bedtime. No matter what your preferred bedtime routine (see below for sleep routine examples), make sure you do it consistently every night. That way, every time you start the routine, your baby will gradually learn that it’s time to go to sleep.
Examples of bedtime routines for babies
Read a bedtime story: Everyone loves a good story and so does your baby! For infants, we recommend Good Night Little Bear and The Poky Little Puppy. For ages 3-5, we recommend Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes and Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton. Try The Giant Book of Bedtime Stories by William Roetzheim for a comprehensive 800-page collection of rhymes, stories, and parables perfect for bedtime.
Bathe your baby: The warm water will relax her and it also lets you have fun with your baby. If your baby doesn’t like bath time, try washing her hands and face, change her diaper, brush her teeth and get her into night clothes.
Massage your baby: Massages are relaxing even for little ones. You can learn several baby massage techniques from trusted books like Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage by Frederick Leboyer and Infant Massage – A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala McClure.
Rock and sing to your baby: Gently rocking the baby while singing him a lullaby is probably the most trusted way to induce your baby into sleeping. You can even breastfeed or bottle-feed him before doing this.
Use a baby sleeping aid: You can swaddle newborns with a swaddling blanket and use a dummy to help your baby sleep. Baby sleep gadgets like music boxes, constellation night lights and ambient white noise machines can also help your baby drift off to dreamland.
You can’t force your baby to sleep, but you can create a soothing environment where they will be lulled into slumber.
Be open to experimentation, the bedtime routine might not work every time, meaning you’ll have to mix it up a bit.
Having a fixed bedtime and a familiar sleeping ritual are the best things you can do to make sure your baby goes to sleep and stays asleep for the whole night.