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How to Establish a Bedtime Routine
We are creatures of habit. We like to be able to predict what is coming next. Babies are no different. When they are learning about the world around them, it gives them security when they can predict and know that an action follows another action.
Routines are great for babies and kids alike. You will have less tantrums from your toddler and preschooler if you stick to a routine. The minute you change things up on them, expect some protest in the form of a tantrum.
Kids in general don’t like to be surprised. That’s why they like the same book or movie over and over. They are learning language and they are learning to be able to predict what is coming next. They find security in being able to know and predict.
Routines are very important at bedtime. This is a time that you are going to leave them alone and they need to know they are safe and secure. How would you feel if you were dropped off and had no idea when your ride was going to pick you up?
Letting your child fall asleep knowing that this is normal and that you will come and get them will help them fall asleep in a safe state.
Establishing a bedtime routine
When should you establish a bedtime routine? As soon as you are able to! Babies are learning from the moment they are born.
If you plan to do a bath time before bed, start it early on. Think about what steps you want to include in your routine. Is it able to be followed away from home? How long does it take to complete the routine?
Aidalyn had a solid bedtime routine in place by 6-8 weeks. We would swaddle her, give her a pacifier, her lovey (Charlie) and turn on her sound machine. She was sleeping through the night in her crib by 8 weeks. This child loves routine though. She never would adapt well when we weren’t at home.
Here is the sound machine we use:
Aidalyn is now 3 and her bedtime and nap routines have developed to meet her needs. We tuck her in using her special blanket and pillow. She still has her same lovey and sound machine. We read 1-2 books, sing 1-2 lullabies and a prayer before bed. (She still has a pacifier, cough.)
This time has really turned into a great bonding time with her and I love the extra special moments it allows.
Annaleigh at 8 months is still working on getting a solid routine down. She never liked to be swaddled and she wouldn’t take a pacifier.
I’ve had to wait for her to grow developmentally, so now she doesn’t startle and wake herself up during the night.
What works for her is either Adam or myself singing to her. I can usually lay her down in the crib and tuck a blanket around her legs. She is sleepy but still awake. Then I rub her belly and sing a few lullaby’s. I turn on her mobile that is over her bed and her sound machine.
She is usually calm and asleep in less than 10 minutes (and usually more like 5). At night, she prefers to be nursed to sleep, so I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy that she is still a baby.
Every baby is different and you will have to do a trial and error to see what your baby needs from you to help them sleep. As you can see that routines can adapt and change as your child grows, the important thing is to be consistent and allow for routines to be established early on.
Do you use a bedtime routine? What are your steps in your kid’s bedtime routine?