If newborn colicky periods or toddler bedtime battles are a familiar part of your evening, it may be time to look at the bedtime routine you have for your little one.
The brain has a wonderful way of releasing neurotransmitters, such as melatonin, that prepare us for sleep. A bedtime routine is one of the ways we can prep our brains to settle to sleep with ease.
From the time your baby is a couple of months old, you should start to mark the end of each day with a soothing bedtime routine that will prime your little one for sleep.
Here is a 7-step approach to a constructive bedtime routine:
- Identify a reasonable time for bed. For newborns this may be as early as 6pm and for toddlers as late as 7pm. Do not be tempted to have a later bedtime, until your child is older than 5 years old.
- Start your bedtime routine one hour before the appointed sleep time. If your baby is very little, feed one breast before bath and then bath. If your baby is on solids, start bath by closing the curtains in his room and running a warm bath with lavender oil.
- Bath time is rarely calming as little ones get so excited in the water but try to keep all interactions muted and soothing.
- After bath do not leave the bedroom or nursery at all. Your baby should have the impression that the world ends at 6pm and it’s not worth being awake.
- A gentle massage with massage oil with a sleepy fragrance is a good idea if your baby is soothed by touch.
- Feed the final feed in your arms and gently rock and lull your little one until he is drowsy.
- Make sure your baby does the final step of settling to sleep independently – holding a soft toy or comfort blanky as he drifts off to sleep.
- Keep all interactions just before bedtime calming and muted
- Do not take your baby out of the bedroom after bath time. Do all caregiving before bed in the sleep space
- Keep a consistent bedtime of no later than 7pm