Ceating a bedtime routine that works is the most difficult challenge new mommies face.
Now, I don’t know about you but I LOVE my sleep. And bedtime is one of my favourite times of the day – no joke!
I can’t function without it sleep. I NEED IT.
So, before my daughter was born, I swore to myself I was going to train my baby to sleep.
Establishing a bedtime routine was number one on my ‘priority baby things to do’ and I wasn’t about to mess about with that!
We all need a good sleep every now and then. Most especially if you’re a new mommy and recovering from giving birth!
Sadly, I’ve seen many new moms fall into the trap of not realising they can start a bedtime routine even with a brand newborn baby.
You don’t have to wait until your baby is a toddler to start thinking about putting a bedtime routine in place.
It’s much easier to do it when your baby is still very very young – very brand new.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO START A ROUTINE WITH A NEWBORN BABY
Put it simply, YES. And if I could do it – twice, then anyone can.
The thing that people get caught up in is the idea that babies have their own sleep routine and you can’t change it.
While the first part is true, the latter is, well not-so-true.
See, babies have their own sleep/wake cycle while they’re still in the womb – that’s true. But when they are born, that sleep/wake pattern will be disturbed due to various factors.
Once your baby is out of the womb, they are introduced to a new environment. One that has light, noise, physical movement.
They are introduced to a world where they have to actively eat and poop.
Why would you delay a sleep pattern when so much is changing anyway?
THE IMPORTANCE OF STARTING A BEDTIME ROUTINE IN THE EARLY DAYS
Establishing a bedtime routine early on will b beneficial for both you (most especially you) and baby in the long run.
For starters, it will be one less thing for you to do later on, and it means you’ll be able to get some rest right when you need it most – postpartum recovery.
SO, HERE ARE THE STEPS TO STARTING A BEDTIME ROUTINE
CHOOSE A BEDTIME AND STICK TO IT
The first 24 – 48 hours after you give birth are absolutely amazing. You will be in owe of your newborn baby.
You won’t be able to keep your eyes off them – well and long after that really.
So, this will give you plenty of time to master your baby’s sleep/wake pattern. You will be able to see how you both cope with having the baby outside your womb.
Yes, its a big change, but take the time you see when the baby sleeps and how long for. Are they a fussy/restless sleeper?
Are they not sleeping at all, are they sleeping too much? Bear in mind that this pattern will eventually change. But from experience, it never changes by much.
from what you see, choose a bedtime and stick to it.
This time should mark SLEEP TIME not to be confused with nap time.
Having a bedtime will help you differentiate between evening nap time to bedtime.
Once you’ve picked your bedtime, stick to it. Don’t change it as it will create confusion.
When choosing a bedtime, think about how well it will work for you. Will it be after you’ve had your dinner? will it be after daddy gets home from work? – consider other things and other members of the family (especially if you have other children).
CREATE A 3 POINT ROUTINE
What’s a 3 point routine?
Don’t you know what 3 Point Routine is?
Don’t worry, I just made it up. BUT. IT. WORKS.
A 3 point routine is essentially a routine that you create by doing the exact same three things in a row.
So, for example, if your chosen bedtime is 7 pm, you might want to start your 3 point routine at 6. 5.30.
Start with a bath followed by a feed, followed by a song…then bed
The difference with the 3 point routine, is that it’s done EXACTLY the same each day, at that specific time – almost like taking routinely prescribed medication!
So, have the bath at the same time, for roughly the same length. feeding should be done in the same room – preferably, the room in which the baby sleeps in. The song should be THE SAME SONG.
This creates repetition, which will act as cues for your baby – you will be amazed at how quickly your baby will catch on to this.
The 3 point routine must be done the same regardless of who is putting the baby to sleep.
Don’t try to please visitors over your baby. If visitors are around when it’s bedtime, simply excuse yourselves and start the bedtime routine – don’t even feel guilty about it.
The next three stages will go deeper into how to create the 3 point routine and make it work.
PREPARE THE ENVIRONMENT – THE BABY’S SLEEPING AREA
Preparing an environment for bedtime will get the baby used to the sleeping area. She will start to learn that once she has been placed in her cot, then its nighttime sleep and not nap time.
In order to keep the sleeping area constant and separate from the naptime area, you need to keep it physically separate. So it might be a good idea to have a naptime area set up downstairs or in the living room.
That way, you can have the cot in the bedroom for sleeping. It will also b easier to keep it prepared to lessen confusion.
SOUND ACTIVITIES THAT CUE YOUR BABY FOR BEDTIME
Babies work on sound – a lot.
so, just before putting your baby down, do something that will remain constant.
I would advise not to include the storytelling part – because you will want to change it up.
But things like singing a song after the bedtime story, saying the same bedtime prayer, or even just saying, goodnight, sleep tight, Angels on your pillow, I LOVE YOU – is enough.
to this day, I say those exact same words to my kids just before light out.
Those words mark the end of the routine and cue them to close their eyes and sleep.
Because I’ve been saying EVERY night since they were born – yes I know.
GIVE PLENTY OF CUDDLES CREATE A CALM ENVIRONMENTS AND MOOD
Your baby will still need your cuddles. Its cold world out here to show them some love, keep them warm – for a bit.
You don’t want to overdo it to the point where your baby becomes clingy.
You need to find a balance between enough cuddles for him to go to sleep, but not too little that you leave the baby in distress.
This might also be the best time to use a comfort item. Something that will give them comfort in your absence.
But it has to be something associated with bedtime.
KEEP THE ROUTINE NO MATTER WHO’S PUTTING THE BABY TO SLEEP
Keeping your baby’s routine doesn’t mean that mommy has to be on bedtime duty EVERY TIME.
Daddy can also carry out the bedtime routine. As long as the routine remains unchanged, anyone can put the baby to sleep.
DON’T LET YOUR BABY GET OVER TIRED
An overly tired baby is harder to get to sleep. No matter what you try, your baby will probably not settle down.
If your far too tired, she will be cranky as anything! You will only be making your work ten times harder. As much as you are giving your baby cues, you will also need to learn your babies cues.
Make sure they are having adequate rest during the day.
Keeping a baby up all day will NOT make them sleep all night – its just TORTURE!
WITH REPETITION AND CONSISTENCY, YOUR BABY WILL LEARN THE NEW ROUTINE.
Repeat, repeat and well, repeat.
Like with anything else, it will take time to take effect. BUT with repetition, it will soon become second nature.
stick to the same routine even when your baby is older.
Like I say, my toddlers have the same routine they’ve had since they were born.
They know it so well that when they go to my mom’s house they tell her the routine and it helps HER get them into bed a lot faster and with less fuss.
Keeping the routine consistent will also reduce the amount of night wakes in the future.
It’s entirely up to you whether you want your baby to have a bedtime routine.
No one can really do that for you. If you decide that you want to set a bedtime routine, know that you will have to PUT THE WORK IN.
It’s not easy and it does not happen overnight. But with consistency and repetition, you will be able to create a bedtime routine that will be workable even when your baby is older.
And one easy enough that anyone can follow and successfully carry out.
There you have it.
Did you enjoy this post? feel free to check out the related posts.
I would also love to hear your thoughts or contributions to this post in the comment section below.
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