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Does a good night’s sleep seem like a distant dream? Yes, life with a new baby can turn your world upside down in beautiful ways – and exhausting ways, too! It’s very normal for newborns to wake frequently for feeds, and to be close to you. You are their entire world, afterall.
As your little one gets older, establishing a baby bedtime routine is a lovely, gentle way to promote calm before bedtime.
We human beings are creatures of habit. We like to know what’s coming next! And babies are no different. In fact, consistent routines can help them make sense of their days (and nights!). Routines repeated over time send a signal to your baby’s brain as to what will happen next. When you follow the same routine each night - for example, dinner, short play, bath, stories and then bed – your baby becomes familiar with what comes next. This is comforting.
The goal isn’t to follow a rigid routine timed to the exact minute each night. However, setting up a positive bedtime routine has been shown to improve a baby’s quality of sleep and also improve the mother’s mood.
Here is a beautiful routine to share with your baby each night before bed. It’s a lovely way to spend quality time bonding with your baby and settling them for a restful night’s sleep.
1. After the evening meal, give baby a bath. Try a natural baby wash subtly scented with chamomile and lavender. These beautiful botanicals have soothing qualities that can help calm your baby and relax them ahead of their bedtime.
2. After the bath, gently dry your baby, and if they are not too over-tired or out of sorts, you can try a gentle massage as you apply a nourishing moisturiser. If you’re unsure where to start, this guide is very helpful.
3. Dress baby in their sleepsuit, or try a baby sleeping bag.
4. It’s never too soon to start enjoying a bedtime story with your baby. Choose a short board book to read. They’ll love the time snuggled on your lap.
5. Follow the story with a last feed. You may like to dim the lights and put on soft music or a white noise machine. You can experiment with what works best for your little one.
6. It’s time to tuck baby in. Sweet dreams, little one.
Every baby is different. What works for one mum and her baby may not work for you and yours. It may take time and patience for your baby to settle into a routine, but consistency is the key. And of course, if your baby is unwell or teething, routines can appear to stop working. Go gently and remember, this too shall pass. Sometimes we all need extra hugs!
If you’re unsure about what is normal when it comes to sleep and babies, try this helpful resource. And of course, if you have any concerns, make an appointment with your trusted GP or paediatrician.