All parents want their children to learn to sleep at night, that’s why there are many techniques and guidelines that help out. The truth is that there is no perfect technique since all babies and families are different, but it has been found that babies thrive on predictability. For this reason, experts recommend establishing a daily nighttime routine so babies can predict bedtime and feel secure.
To ensure security and create predictability, begin your baby’s routine 15 or 20 minutes before bedtime. Usually this is 12 hours after your child usually awakens in the morning. It’s important to keep the routine short and sweet; if your little one is sleepy there’s no reason to entertain him longer.
The night routine gently lets your child know that it is bedtime. It also provides an opportunity to relax and settle down before sleeping, while bonding and fostering language development.
Example of a bedtime routine:
- Finish dinner.
- Go for a short walk to help with digestion (it’s not recommended to bathe your baby when he’s hungry or he just finished dinner).
- Have a peaceful and relaxing bath with background music.
- After the bath, pat him dry, gently massaging his skin. Then put his pajamas on.
- Bottle or breastfeed your little one while peacefully talking or singing to him.
- Brush his teeth if necessary.
- Read a bedtime story or sing a lullaby, so that your little one gets sleepy.
- Lay him down in his crib once he’s drowsy.
Remember that there is no perfect routine: the best routine is the one that makes you, your family and your baby happy! So feel free to choose a routine that suits you. The only requisite is to be consistent, and learn to identify your baby’s cues, so that you don’t start the routine when he is overtired or not tired at all.