It’s never too early to get into the habit of a bedtime routine for your baby. In the first few weeks, bedtime may be a different time every night. When your baby reaches about two months of age, they may begin to settle into a preferred bedtime.
A regular evening routine will help your baby to settle more quickly and hopefully, can reduce the number of times they wake in the night.
Once your baby is more active during the day, they may need time to ease into bedtime. Gradually shift from stimulating activities to a quiet, relaxing routine that leads to sleep.
The Bedtime Routine Checklist
Choose your favourite calming techniques from this list to show your baby it's time for sleep. The order doesn't matter, as long as you stick to a similar pattern every night, so your little one knows what to expect.
- Give a bath. An evening bath gives a useful signal to your baby that bedtime is coming soon.
- Clean "teeth". Rub gums gently with a clean, wet washcloth from birth until your baby's first tooth comes through Once their first tooth appears (timing can vary but many babies grow their first tooth between four and seven months of age), clean their teeth twice a day with a soft, small toothbrush and a smear of fluoride baby-toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
- Offer a massage. The ultimate way to unwind and connect with your baby - as long as they are not too ticklish!
- Change into pyjamas. Even during the early weeks when days and nights blur together, a simple 'hands and face' wash along with a change of clothes at the end of the day will show your baby that it's time for longer (hopefully!) night time sleep.
- Sing a lullaby. Repeat the same calming tune every night so it's soothing, not overly exciting.
- Share story time. Bond over a book. Your baby will love to hear your voice and enjoy the calm time spent together.
- Give kisses and cuddles. Show your baby plenty of love, with lots of kisses and snuggles before you put them in their cot.
- Swaddle. Young babies can feel warm, safe, and secure when swaddled. It may also keep them from startling themselves awake. Ask your healthcare professional for advice and if necessary, a demonstration. Once your little one learns to roll over, however, they may not like the constraints of being swaddled.
- Awake to sleep. Put your baby in their cot when they are sleepy but still awake. Learning to fall asleep by themselves will help your little one develop self-soothing techniques.