With a new baby sleep can become a forgotten dream, but establishing a regular bedtime routine can help relax your baby and encourage her to sleep through the night.
As you know, putting a baby to sleep is a far more complicated task than you might think, so make sure you give yourself enough time in the evening. Follow a set routine as calmly as you can, rather than rushing to get her down before the hour you’ve decided is her bedtime.
All babies are different and what helps one sleep may not work for you, so be prepared to try different tricks and tips to find which ones create your baby’s perfect routine.
For very young babies, routines are usually based around their hunger pangs and for the first few weeks or even months you may find it impossible to judge when she’ll be tired or hungry. After about three to six months, you should find she’s waking up less often during the night and is ready for you to start establishing a set routine.
At this age, babies need plenty of sleep to grow and develop. It’s common for them to sleep around 15 hours in every 24, some at night and the rest during one or two naps during the day.
During the day
It goes without saying that interacting with your baby is vital and letting her play with toys or have fun in her bouncer will make sure that she’s used up energy during the day and is hopefully tired enough to sleep at night. But make sure that for an hour or so before bedtime, you let her calm down. Follow her daytime activities with some calming time, that’s quiet and soothing.
A good bedtime is around 7pm. Later than around 8.30pm and you may find that your baby has gone beyond tired and might be grumpy and have trouble settling.
You may want to bathe your baby before bed, but little ones don’t need a bath every day, some days a top and tail will be enough. Either way, always do it at the same time and in the same place each day so your baby recognises it’s a step towards sleep.
Warm baths can be great for sending babies off to the land of nod, but if yours gets excited by them, you may want to skip this step.
Rub or brush your babies gums (getting her used to this early is vital for good dental hygiene when she’s older), change her nappy and put her into pyjamas.
In the nursery
When you’re baby’s ready for bed, take her straight to the nursery. This way she’ll associate the preparation and getting into her pyjamas with bed. Keep the lights low or use a baby nightlight, which will signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. You can play some gentle games with her at this stage, show her picture books or cuddly toys. Just make sure you don’t do anything too energetic!
Now is also a nice time for you and your partner to talk to and cuddle your baby. Try having her wave goodnight to some of her toys, put on some gentle music and sing lullabies. Whether you’re a good singer or not, the tone of your voice will be very soothing to your baby and will help her feel safe and ready to drop off.
Making the effort to make bedtime a fun, pleasant experience is important, so your baby doesn’t feel like going to bed is a punishment or something to resist.
To prevent your baby waking up hungry in a few hours, give her a bedtime feed before you put her down to sleep.
Try baby massage before bed, the soothing movement will help your baby feel relaxed and the aromatherapy oils used in specific baby massage oils products help promote calm and sleep.
As well as going to bed at the same time every day, make sure your baby has naps at the same time and wake her up at the same time each morning to help keep her body clock in order.