Setting up a routine for your baby can be tough, but it is very important. It can help greatly in establishing good sleep habits early on, which will help your baby fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up rested. That’s why we put together these seven tips for how to establish a bedtime routine. Try them out to get your baby used to a regular bedtime at night.
1. You don't have to establish a routine right away
As a newborn, your baby will likely be sleeping a LOT, and will need to be fed every two to three hours. It will probably be a few weeks before a pattern emerges.
2. Observe your baby's tendencies
Pinpoint when your baby usually goes to sleep for their longest stretch of the night. Try keeping a sleep log. You can start to time the bedtime routine in advance and start preparing for bed half an hour to an hour before they typically are ready to sleep.
3. Introduce bedtime rituals
Slowly begin to add the routine steps you would like to include to help your baby calm down and relax. Try a soothing bath, infant massages, or cuddly feeding (breast or bottle). Read a book or sing lullabies (songs and stories help baby to take comfort in your voice) - whatever you choose, be consistent, and in time your baby will equate those things with bedtime.
4. Prep the perfect sleeping environment
Dark is best! Try not to leave a light on in the baby’s room. A dark room is key for getting an infant’s body into sleep mode. Darkness encourages the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps the body transition to sleep.
Try using a flashlight app on your smartphone to avoid stubbing your toe during late-night feedings.
Here’s something you might not know - clothing matters! What your baby wears to sleep is an essential part of the routine as well, as babies don’t have the ability to regulate their own body temperature, so it is important to make sure they’re not too cold or overheated. We suggest merino wool because it creates a microclimate around your baby, which maintains a consistent temperature. Woolino sleeping bags are the perfect option for ensuring safe and comfortable sleep throughout the night.
Woolino mom Anastasia B. said, “I honestly don't know what I would do without these sleeping bags! I've tried going the blanket route, it either left my babies cold or kept me up all night covering them. I've tried just putting long pajamas on them, but it wasn't really warm enough. A baby sleep sack from Woolino keeps Baby T toasty warm and covered all night!”
5. Master the drowsy drop
Try to put your baby down when she’s drowsy, but NOT actually asleep. The trick is to make your exit when you can still see eyeballs. This way things won’t be different when she stirs, and she will get used to falling asleep on her own. “Eyelids should be heavy — not shut,” says occupational therapist Jennifer Garden. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again! The drowsy baby tuck-in doesn’t work for every infant, but it is worth a shot, and repetition will help create a familiar routine.
6. Shorten your routine during the day
You may find that the nighttime routine works well for nap time too! Take advantage of your baby’s sleeping cues and establish an abbreviated before-nap pattern. While the bath or massage may take too much time, a song or story could help with transitioning to nap time.
Keep in mind, as well, that a Woolino sleep bag can become a familiar and calming routine for your little one. When you use the sleep bag for nap time, the comfort and feel of the garment becomes associated with bedtime and sleep.
Woolino mom Meme Suzuki Arguello writes in an Amazon review, "One of my now two year old boys loves loves loves his sleep sack and cries when we don't immediately put it on when it's sleep time.”
7. Be flexible
Your baby’s bedtime routine shouldn’t be written in stone. Be conscious of the fact that your growing baby’s needs may change. Baths may become rowdy if they enjoy playing in the water. Maybe skip to massage or move bath time earlier in the evening. Bottle feeding or nursing may cause them to fall asleep completely before they’ve had enough to fill their belly. If that happens, try moving the before-bed snack earlier. With a little trial and error along the way, you will eventually determine how to establish a bedtime routine.