Getting ready for bed can be a hectic time. However, spending some quality time with your little one, whether it is by reading a book or just by talking and playing for about half an hour, helps to increase the bond between mom and baby.
Research shows that following a routine before sleeping helps babies to sleep longer and better, and develops their communication skills. It’s also a great way to bond and connect with your child. Other than this, following a bedtime routine also helps moms relax, thus, decreasing stress. This in turn has a more positive effect on your child’s emotions and behavior.
Bedtime Rituals for Babies
If you are wondering what to do before putting a baby to sleep, here are some tips that can help to create a routine for yourself and your baby.
Create an atmosphere for bedtime
Use a night lamp in your baby’s room to create an atmosphere for sleeping. Most babies like a soothing noise as it reminds them of the sound when they were in the womb. Consider using a white noise machine only for a few minutes at bedtime (a white noise machine should not be used throughout the entire day), or a musical mobile to help them fall asleep.
Breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby so that the tummy remains full for the night.
For older kids, you may consider giving them a light snack. Make sure to wipe the gums (if you have a younger child) or brush your baby’s teeth if there are any. Some babies tend to fall asleep at the feeding session at night, so you may want to keep this step for before the bath.
Create a relaxing atmosphere
Approximately 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime; give your baby a bath, put on a clean diaper, and lotion. Next, you can give your baby a gentle massage to help him or her relax, and put on his or her pajamas (and swaddle for younger babies).
Spend time reading or talking
This could be anything between 10 and 15 minutes before bedtime. Spend this time reading a book to your child or simply talking to them in a calm voice. Or better still, you could sing them a lullaby.
This is the last phase of the bedtime routine. This could be just between three to five minutes before your baby closes his or her eyes. Put him or her down in the crib just before your baby falls asleep. Kiss your baby on the forehead or say a food goodnight words.
Tips to Keep in Mind for a Bedtime Routine
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a bedtime routine for your baby.
Consistency is the key when trying to establish a nighttime routine for your little one. Babies love routine so try to get them to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. The crib is the safest place for your baby as it reduces the chances of SIDS and allows them to have a comfortable sleep.
Babies love to be rocked and cuddled when falling asleep. But try to put your little one down before they are fully asleep. This prevents them from getting used to falling asleep in your arms, and they will get into the routine of sleeping on their own.
Keep in mind that you may need to make adjustments if required. For instance, when your baby is younger, a cuddle, warm bath, and a lullaby will do. But as they grow older, bath time may become a noisier affair. So you may need to shift the bath towards an earlier part of the day.
Use certain cues. You might want to incorporate certain cues that your baby understands within the nap time routine as well.
For example, if you sing a lullaby, your baby will learn to associate it with sleep time. So use cues that are familiar to your baby for both nap time as well as night time.
Importance of a Bedtime Routine for Babies
- Reading a book helps with language, new concepts, and reading skills.
- Talking and spending time with kids reminds them that you love them.
- Getting ready for bed and actions like brushing their teeth and changing their clothes helps them to be independent.
- Helping them to take a bath, giving them their snack or drink shows them that you will always take care of them. This in turn develops trust and a feeling of safety.
Spending time with your little one before bedtime reinforces your bond and strengthens your relationship. The more quality time you spend with your child, the closer they will be to you. So even if you are busy throughout the day, establishing a good bedtime routine is beneficial and healthy.