There are many ways that you can establish the bedtime routine. Here are some tips and ideas for bedtime routines that you might want to consider:
- Start the bedtime routine with a bath, some cuddle time, a song or story, a feeding, more cuddling, and then bed.
- Sing a soothing lullaby just before you put your baby to bed.
- Try to do things in the same order, with the same people involved, at that same time each night so that you create a pattern that your baby will recognize as a pre-sleep routine.
- Make sure the lights are low and dim. You want to make your baby recognize that when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep.
- Make sure that whatever routine you set up for you and your baby that there is a finality to it at the end. Your baby should learn that when you put him into bed, no matter how pleasant the bedtime routine has been, that it’s time to sleep. Give him some time to fuss.
Number five in the above list is a very important point to remember when it comes to establishing your bedtime routine. If you cuddle your baby, lay down with him, or sing to him one more time after you have put him to bed, he will come to expect that anytime he isn’t ready for sleep all he has to do is fuss and the pleasure of being rocked will be his again.
You are not trying to play a game of control with him or deny him your affection after he has been put into bed. After all, it’s normal for him to want to be with you. What you are trying to do is make him understand that after the bedtime routine is complete, it is time to sleep.
A quick note on nighttime feedings, which will be further discussed in the chapter entitled From Milk to Solids. If you are feeding your baby during the night you won’t be able to establish that bedtime routine. If your baby needs to have a feeding at night you may have to delay a good sleeping pattern until he is ready to stop feeding during the night. Most babies stop feeding during the night around five to six months.
Still on the subject of sleep, but on the more entertaining side: Lullabies. Using music to lull and soothe your baby to sleep can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. More about music in the next chapter entitled Using Music to Calm Your Baby.
The Lullaby, or Cradle Song, has been around for centuries. Whether you are singing Brahm’s Lullaby or stumbling through a tune from Sesame Street, what matters is that you are using the power of music and your voice to communicate with your baby. Singing a lullaby at some point during baby’s nighttime routine will settle him down and prepare him of the stillness of sleep.
There is so much more that can be covered under the “sleep” topic when it comes to your baby. You will have to establish your own nighttime rules by trial and error. As your baby grows older you will find that his sleep patterns are constantly changing.
What you will have established with the use of baths and lullabies are certain characteristics that can be adapted to whatever nighttime routine you come up with to fit to your baby’s age and needs. With a lot of patience and love you will able to make it through the ever-changing world of baby’s sleep.