Benefits of a Bedtime Routine
- A consistent bedtime routine creates positive sleep associations that our babies’ brains recognize as specific cues for sleep. When the sleep sack zips up and the sound machine turns on, our babies know that sleep time is approaching!
- Familiarity of that routine sets expectations and boundaries. Children need this type of structure to feel safe and secure, and to know what to expect next.
- A bedtime routine does not need to be long (10-15 minutes) and a modified version will work perfectly for naptime. The specifics are less important than making sure there is a predictable pattern. Reading a book before bed may be part of the routine, yet it is not necessary to read the same book each time.
- As your babies get older and more verbal, be careful not to fall into the trap of “one more book” and “one more hug.” Before you realize what has happened, your 15-minute routine can suddenly stretch into 30 minutes!
A bedtime routine should be a pleasurable, calm, relaxing, and bonding experience for both baby and Mom and Dad. Here are a few suggestions to help achieve an ideal routine:
- Sleep sack
- Warm bath
- Infant massage
- Calm music (to be turned off before Mom and Dad leave the room)
- Quiet singing
- Sound machine (static; not ocean sound)
- Familiar and consistent phrase: “Goodnight; sleep tight. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Tips for Success:
- Allow your child to begin to unwind before your bedtime routine even begins. Decrease the activity and noise in your home and dim the lights to help your little one start to calm down.
- Keep screen time out of the bedtime routine. In fact, it is recommended that all screens be turned off 90 minutes before bedtime.
- Keep your final goodnight brief.
- When done with your routine, put your little one in his bed drowsy but awake.
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.