Establishing a baby bedtime routine

Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon sleep through the night, while some don’t for a long time. Establishing a baby bedtime routine might take some time, but it is worth doing it and doing it right.

Your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it’s unlikely to be the same as other babies you know.

It’s also unlikely to fit in with your need for sleep. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.

If you’re breastfeeding, in the early weeks your baby is likely to doze off for short periods during a feed. Carry on feeding until you think your baby has finished or until they’re fully asleep. This is a good opportunity to try to get a bit of rest yourself.

If you’re not sleeping at the same time as your baby, don’t worry about keeping the house silent while they sleep. It’s good to get your baby used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.

How can I get my baby used to night and day?

To have a baby bedtime routine, first you need to teach your baby that night-time is different from daytime from the start. During the day, open curtains, play games and don’t worry too much about everyday noises when they sleep.

At night, you might find it helpful to:

  • keep the lights down low
  • not talk much and keep your voice quiet
  • put your baby down as soon as they’ve been fed and changed
  • not change your baby unless they need it
  • not play with your baby

Your baby will gradually learn that night-time is for sleeping.

Where should my baby sleep?

For the first six months your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep, both day and night. Particularly in the early weeks, you may find your baby only falls asleep in your or your partner’s arms, or when you’re standing by the cot.

You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they’ve just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer.

Newborn sleep: what to expect

Newborn babies will sleep on and off throughout the day and night, not recommend to try establishing a baby bedtime routine yet. It can be helpful to have a pattern, but you can always change the routine to suit your needs.

For example, you could try waking your baby for a feed just before you go to bed in the hope you’ll get a long sleep before they wake up again.

Establishing a baby bedtime routine

You may feel ready to introduce a baby bedtime routine when your baby is around three months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be helpful for everyone and help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also a great opportunity to have one-to-one time with your baby.

The routine could consist of:

  • having a bath
  • changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy
  • brushing their teeth (if they have any!)
  • putting them to bed
  • reading a bedtime story
  • dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
  • giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle
  • singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed

As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.

Leave a little time between your baby’s feed and bedtime. If you feed your baby to sleep, feeding and going to sleep will become linked in your baby’s mind. When they wake in the night, they’ll want a feed to help them go back to sleep.

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