The Benefits of Creating a Sleep Routine for Your Baby
This is a guest post by Cristin Howard, who runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads.
Getting a baby to sleep is the ultimate goal of new parenthood. Nothing is more rewarding than successfully settling your baby down for a nice, long snooze.
Those early days with your baby are precious, but sleep can be hard to come by. It does get better as they get older since they can go for longer times between feeds, but in reality, an infant’s tendency to doze in short stretches eventually turns into a baby’s desire to stay awake and play.
So what are you to do?
If you’re struggling with getting your baby to sleep at night, consider the benefits of creating a sleep routine for your baby. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but any sleep routine might yield benefits for both you and your little one from a very early age!
Creating a Wind-Down Window
When you have a bedtime routine, your baby’s brain and body will quickly begin to notice the signs that it is time to start relaxing into the sleep zone.
Turning off screens, talking in hushed tones, and playing a mellow music playlist can all help create a soothing environment for bedtime.
Even as an infant, they will start to learn these cues in the same way they know when a bottle is coming or sense that you are about to put them down or pick them. The external environment will tell their internal clocks that’s time for bed.
Bedtime routines also make families more likely to stick to bedtime and sleep schedules, which sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthier sleep habits.
Security in Consistency
Babies (and children) feel secure when they can rely on things being the same, or very similar. Very young babies will learn the routine quickly and begin to know and recognize what comes next. The pattern is calming, helping ease fears and anxiety as they head into a period of rest where they know you may not be in the same room. So no matter if they are sleeping in a crib or their first bed, they can get comfortable and ready to sleep.
A bedtime routine that happens every evening (or close to it) will give them peace and allow them to rest without worry (yes, even babies have worries!). This calmness will help them to self-soothe during the night. If you need a little help, there are many crib soothers on the market.
When you are creating your bedtime routine, consider including activities that can be done anywhere. This way, if your baby is out of their typical environment (at grandma’s house, on vacation, etc.), they will still get the sense of security from their familiar routine.
Sleep is necessary at every stage of life for healthy growth and development. Having a bedtime routine as a baby sets you up to carry that into the toddler ages and beyond. It is a clear signal to everyone that sleep is a priority in your household. And it should be. Kids and adults need rest, and by setting up a consistent routine, you send the message to your children, no matter the age, that in your house, you sleep.
Bedtime is an ideal opportunity for parents to work together as a team. During the day, the division of labor is often one or the other, dependent on work schedules and other events happening in the house.
Create a routine where both parents are involved. You don’t have to do everything together - feel free to divide up duties to play to your strengths and schedule. Even if one parent works nights, set up a time where you play a good night song from them or blow kisses into the phone before laying your baby down in the crib.
These little things keep both parents involved, creating a united front that helps convey that bedtime is important, and it’s time to sleep now.
Precious Bonding Moments
Life is busy. Life with a baby is nuts. The monotony of daily tasks can overtake you at times so that your parenting role seems filled with endless loads of laundry and changing diapers. Bedtime is a place to capture a quiet moment of stillness, just for you and your child.
Sitting your child in your lap while you read them a story, or singing a particular song each night will create memories for both of you. These small moments combine together to strengthen the bonds of your relationship.
Realities of a Routine
Your bedtime routine doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Feel free to keep it simple: put on pajamas, sing a quick song, and say good night.
Of course, you can add in warm baths, a nighttime feeding, a book, and back-patting, or anything else you can think of, but it’s not necessary.
The most important thing is to create a routine that makes you and your baby feel safe and calm so that bedtime becomes an opportunity to relax and recharge.
- Bedframes.com LLC