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Whoever invented the phrase “sleeps like a baby” apparently hasn’t had a baby.
Newborn babies can be fussy, exhausted, and still refusing to fall asleep. And when they actually do sleep, babies could make weird and loud noises and actively move in the sleep.
One way how you can help your baby to easier fall asleep and actually sleep better is to have a consistent bedtime routine.
Let’s walk through the reasons why your newborn needs a bedtime routine and what should it include.
Why do you need a bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine is a set of 3 to 5 actions that you can do together with your newborn in a certain sequence each evening before sleep.
Children love routines, and babies are no exception. A bedtime routine calms them down and gives a reassurance that everything is fine. During the day babies experience the world and learn new things, so in order to wind down for sleep, it’s important to have a familiar routine to follow. A good bedtime routine will help your baby to fall asleep more easily and have longer periods of being asleep. This, in turn, will give them more energy to be happy and well-rested in the morning.
Bedtime routine ideas for a newborn
There are some things that you can include in a bedtime routine for a newborn. But remember, you don’t have to do all of these things, just choose 3-5 that suits you and your baby.
For example, every bedtime routine online includes a bath. But for my baby the bath time was not relaxing, it was energizing. She got really excited in the water and it was so much harder to coax her to sleep afterward. So we chose to have a bath at some time of the day, not before going to sleep.
Here are the ideas that you might incorporate in your baby’s bedtime routine:
- Relaxing bath
- Massage with a lotion
- Diaper change
- Getting into pajamas
- One last feeding
- Turning off lights, closing curtains
- Turning on the white noise
- Lay down drowsy but awake
When should you start a bedtime routine with my newborn?
You can start a bedtime routine from the first days, but have an open mind. You might have some plan on what you want to do in the bedtime, but pay attention to your baby. He is a unique being and will also participate or refuse some activities.
If your baby doesn’t like being swaddled, that’s ok. Don’t swaddle him.
If your baby can be but to sleep only during a feed, then this might be just what you do in this moment. This might not be recommended by the sleep experts, but they aren’t the ones that haven’t had any sleep in the recent weeks.
My favorite tool that helped a lot to understand when my baby will sleep and at what time should we start a bedtime routine was the Huckleberry app. It predicts optimal nap times as well and from time to time sends informative posts about baby sleep. I’m using the free version and highly recommend it.