Getting your baby to sleep can be a stressful time, especially if you have trouble getting them to settle down. If your baby won't settle, it could delay or disrupt your own bedtime routine, making it harder for you to sleep well too. That's why developing a calming bedtime routine is a great idea. Not only will it help your baby get to sleep faster, it will also help create a calm atmosphere for you too, helping you to sleep better later.
Here are some of our top tips for creating a great bedtime routine for your baby:
1: Make a plan
Exactly what you do for your bedtime routine is down to a mix of personal preference and practicality. Your routine might include a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas, reading together, talking or saying a prayer. What matters most is making sure the routine you create is soothing and consistent. Once you have a plan, it's a good idea to write it down - so that you remember it - and share it with your child (if they are old enough to understand), this way they know what to expect and will help them adjust to your routine.
2: Switch off
To help your baby wind down it's important to help them switch off from their electronic gadgets for at least an hour before bed. The lights in electronic screens can stimulate your baby's brain, making it harder for them to relax and making them overexcited before bedtime. A great bedtime routine is, therefore, one that cuts out any electronic screens, that includes video games, computers, tv and even iPods.
3: A warm bath
The warm water of a bath and your undivided attention during washing may help your baby to relax before bed. However, not all babies like baths and many find being in the water distressing. On the other hand, some babies get overexcited during bath time with splashing about and making lots of noise and mess. If your baby fits either of these descriptions, perhaps leave a bath out of the routine for now. Try a gentle massage or have a quiet cuddle instead - you can always introduce a bath when your baby is older.
4: Have a chat
Your baby will often find your voice soothing, so having a chat before bed is a great way to help them relax. If you're unsure about what you can talk about with your baby, try asking them what they have done that day, but try to avoid any topics that may excite them or make them anxious.
5: Read a story
As we've already mentioned, your baby will find your voice soothing, so reading them a story is a great way to relax them before bed. As an added bonus, your baby will love snuggling up to you as you read, plus it'll help develop their language skills and help them recognise new words.
6: Sing a lullaby
Lullabies have been used for decades and are a tried and tested element of great bedtime routines. Try a song your parents sang to you, or your baby's favourite nursery rhyme.
7: Give a warning
When your baby is young, they may have no judgement of time, so a warning such as 'ten more minutes' may not mean anything to them. However, it is a good idea to help them associate a particular habit or noise with the start of their bedtime routine. For example, make a habit of packing away toys together before putting on pyjamas and getting into bed. This way your baby will know that once you start packing things away, it's almost time for bed. This will help them get into the right mind-set for bed and is a great bedtime routine addition.
8: Make sure your child is comfortable
Many children feel more comfortable with a teddy or doll in bed with them. This helps them to feel comfortable and means they don't feel alone once you leave the room. Make sure you include settling them down with this particular toy in your bedtime routine so they know that it’s time to sleep and not time to play.
9: Play music
As you read to your baby, it can also be a good idea to play gentle, lullaby music at the same time. Try to avoid music with lyrics, however, as this can stimulate their minds too much and reduce the relaxing qualities of the music.
10: Say goodnightBabies often enjoy being carried around before bed to say goodnight to family members, pets and their favourite toys. However, keep this routine simple and quiet, as you don’t want to create too much excitement.
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