We did it! We overcame the four-month sleep regression in my household! My baby is sleeping through the night and we are all feeling much more rested! You too can overcome your baby’s sleep issues with a bit of patience and perseverence. One of the best things you can do to set your child up for bedtime success is to create a bedtime routine.
A routine is a series of steps that helps make life feel more predictable. This isn’t a schedule, but simply a series of steps that tells your little one, “It’s time for bed!” Let me teach why you need a bedtime routine and why it can be a powerful infant sleep aid!
Why Use a Bedtime Routine for your Infant?
If the fourth trimester has taught me anything, we all thrive off a little predictability. I have been following the Baby Whisperer’s Eat-Play-Sleep routine (found in her book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer) since Baby G was a newborn. We also follow a bedtime routine, as well.
Bedtime routines are great because it allows a sense of security and stability. They cue your infant to anticipate the next steps, all the way up to bedtime. A solid bedtime routine can help wind your baby down and lets them go from play time to sleep time.
These routines can help instill healthy habits, such as daily bath time or brushing their teeth (or gums!). As your infant gets older, a bedtime routine also gives you plenty of time to get in those extra baby cuddles before placing them in their crib.
Read more about safe infant sleep HERE.
What Does a Bedtime Routine Look Like?
The bedtime routine you use for your baby should be one that works best for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, nor does it have to be too long.
I personally start getting my baby ready for bed forty-five to thirty minutes before his bedtime. This helps ensure I get everything done before he gets too cranky!
My baby’s bedtime routine
We have been practicing Baby G’s bedtime routine since he was a month old. He now knows when bedtime is coming and now that he is sleep-trained he will protest (but that can be a good thing!)
Nightly Bath Time
I generally start Baby G’s night-time routine with a bath. The warm water can be very calming for babies to help get them in the mood to sleep. You should not use soap every bath, especially when your baby is young.
However, I wanted my son to associate the bath with preparing to be tucked in for the night. While most nights I would put him in his infant bath tub, we only used soap every other night. Other nights he would take a tub or shower with me.
Dress your Baby in Jammies or his Sleep Sack
After his bath, we lotion Baby G up, put vaseline on his booty, and dress him in his onesie and sleep sack.
I am a big proponent for sleep sacks – they are essentially a wearable (and therefore safe) blanket for babies once they get too old for their swaddle. I have tried several sleep sacks. So far I love how soft the Burts Bees Sleep sacks are, but also love how cool and affordable these Simple Joy by Carter’s Sleep Sacks are. (But, full disclosure, I will probably re-order the Simple Joy by Carter’s Sleep Sacks once Baby G outgrows his current size.)
Night- Time Feeding or Bottle
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, mothers agree that it’s a great idea to load up your baby on his calories before bed. However, you do not want your baby to depend on their bottle (or your boob) to go to bed. That’s why I like to put feeding my baby in the middle of our bedtime routine.
The Final Wind-Down
After eating, I enjoy reading Baby G a book. After our night-time book, we say our prayers to thank God for giving Baby G another day to “learn and play” and if He could please keep a guardian angel over him while he sleeps.
I then turn on his Hatch Rest Sound Machine & Night Light, kiss his chubby cheeks and tell him, “Good night, it’s time for sleep. I love you.”
(Using a phrase is also a wonderful sleep cue. I say, “I love you, it’s time for sleep” before every sleep.)
Now that Baby G can put himself to sleep, I set him in his crib and exit his room. If your baby isn’t ready for sleep training, you can rock them to sleep at this point.
Make Your Baby’s Sleep Routine Fit Your Family
We might read a book and say our prayers, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do that. Heck, many moms don’t have a daily bath, and that’s okay. When you create your baby’s sleep routine, it should fit your family’s routine and baby’s personality.
I know many moms will sing their baby a special song before bed. Or maybe you would rather hold and rock them just before being put in the crib, without necessarily helping baby to fall asleep.
Use A Shortened Nap Routine for Your Baby
The great thing about using a bedtime routine for your infant is that you can use a shortened version just before naptime so they know what is coming.
While my son can put himself to sleep for his nighttime sleep, we are still working on independent sleep for naps. There was a month where he would only sleep in my arms. However, as we practice independent sleep for naps, it’s been so useful to use our naptime routine.
Baby G’s Naptime Routine
I use the app, Huckleberry Care, to track my baby’s sleep. The great thing about this app is that it will use the tracked data to determine your baby’s Sweet Spot for the easiest nap. I use this sweet spot to start my son’s naptime routine 15 minutes beforehand.
I start my baby’s naptime routine by changing his diaper and zipping him in his sleep sack. Since we are nap training, he does start whining because he knows mama is about to leave him. This is normal behavior and can even be good – your child is starting to recognize their sleep cues!
After I zip him up in his sleep sack, I turn down his lights and turn on his sleep machine. If you have the Hatch Rest, I like using the red light at 10% and the waves sound at 25% volume. With his Hatch Rest near the door, it helps block out the sounds of my husband watching the TV, or my dogs running around and playing.
After I turn on my baby’s sound machine, I kiss him as many times as I feel neccesary, and I use our key phrase, ” I love you. It’s time to sleep.”
I then set him in his room and close the door behind me.
A Bedtime Routine Makes Putting Baby to Sleep Easier
I highly recommend practicing a bedtime routine for your infant. The sooner you can implement your bedtime and naptime routine, the better! Your baby will learn it’s time for sleep and it helps wind them down.
So, what will you practice for your baby’s sleep routine?