It’s one of the mysteries of life: How can little babies be so good at sleeping except for the times you’d really like them to? (Looking at you, 2 a.m.)
But while, in our adult ages, we’ve probably come to take sleeping through the night for granted—at least until now—this was actually a habit that every person has to learn. That’s why promoting a healthy, consistent bedtime routine from the infant days will ultimately be a gift to everyone in the household.
1. Start at a consistent time There are two things to note: First, the internal clocks of babies are remarkably good at keeping time. And, second, little ones thrive on predictability. Even if your daily schedule bounces around, aim to start winding down for bed within the same 15 minute window of time each night—with as few of exceptions as possible. While this may mean saying no to social calls after a certain time, a consistent bedtime is the foundation from which a healthy sleep pattern for your little one will grow.
2. Set a soothing mood After an afternoon of singing songs, playing games and experiencing all the world has to offer, a quick transition to bedtime may be setting you all up for disappointment. Instead, put on some calming music, dim the lights if you can and use the final diaper change as an opportunity to do a soothing baby massage.
3. Send the same sleepy time cues Along with a calming atmosphere to send sleepy vibes, little ones are good at picking up on a cues from a consistent flow to the bedtime routine. Think: Start with changing into pajamas, then read a book and then sing a favorite lullabye before turning on the sound machine and turning off the light. By have a consistent routine like this, it’s easier for your little one to start actively participating—and mentally preparing him or herself for a night of zzzs.
4. Note the rituals your little one likes Does this mean every aspect of the bedtime routine has to be entirely up to you? Not at all. If you find your baby is eager for a longer cuddling session, take that into account and adjust your timeline.
5. Modify through time For the first months, year or beyond of your baby’s life, chances are good they will end the night by nursing or taking a bottle. During this time, it’s only natural that this is the focal point of your bedtime routine—until, one day, it isn’t. While consistency will always be key, that doesn’t mean it needs to be the same routine during the first months of life as by the time your little one's 3 years old.
Kids2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.