Having a newborn is exciting and tiring at the same time. Both you and baby are exhausted and you both need sleep – but unfortunately for you, baby doesn’t always want to sleep when you do!
During the first few days at home your baby will be in and out of sleep for up to 18 hours a day (it will vary for each baby) and starting a bedtime routine as early in their life as possible will help both you and baby get the sleep you need.
Before you begin to introduce a bedtime routine to your baby, you should first observe your baby’s sleeping pattern. Make a note of what time they sleep the most, how long for, where they fall asleep easiest and what makes them sleepy. From this information you can then begin to create a routine that fits in with your baby’s existing pattern – making it easier for both you and baby.
Having a soothing bath
Having a soothing bath before bed will create a calm atmosphere for your baby to unwind. After bath time dress your baby in pyjamas and relax for a while before continuing the bedtime routine. If your baby doesn't enjoy bath time or they get too excited then it might not be the best option for calming your baby before bed – there are plenty of other options you can choose.
Story time before bed is popular with toddlers, but it’s also great for babies too. Even though they are very young and can’t yet talk themselves it’s a great way for them to hear a wider vocabulary. Plus, hearing your voice is soothing to them – especially while they are drifting off to sleep.
Singing (or playing a CD if you’re not pop star material)
Lullabies are a great way to get your baby to sleep; singing in a soft, gentle voice will help them drift off peacefully. If you’re not an excellent singer (your baby loves you either way) then playing a CD of lullabies in a low lit room while they drift off to sleep will work just as well – just remember to turn the music down so it’s quiet but your baby can still hear it.
There’s no better way to settle your baby before bed than to cuddle them and talk to them for a while. Even if you’re just talking about the day they’ve had or the day they are going to have tomorrow. Babies feel most safe and secure in your arms, so cuddling and talking is a great way to settle them down before they go to sleep.
Tire them out with toys
Just before bedtime play with your baby to release some of their energy so that come bedtime, they’ll actually be ready to sleep. Let them bounce in their bouncer or play peekaboo - just try not to get them too excited as it will be harder to settle them down!
- Put your baby down as soon as they start to get sleepy, this will get them used to falling asleep without you. If your baby continuously drifts off in your arms or while being rocked, it’s what they’ll want every time they need to sleep and bedtime might become tricky.
- Complete any bedtime routine activities in the room where your baby sleeps, this way they’ll be able to understand that stories or lullabies in the bedroom means it’s bedtime.
- Teach your baby about the difference between night and day as early as possible. Daytime should be light and airy with noise, whereas night time should be cosy with little noise and less excitement.
You can adapt your baby’s routine as they get older and their patterns change. Be prepared to go through the routine every night to allow your child to predict when it’s bedtime. And remember that all babies are different - what might work for a friend’s baby might not work for your little one.