When to start a bedtime routine is a popular question from many new parents and there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. This post will help you to decide when to start with a bedtime routine, what you need to consider and which sort of routine is best for you.
When should I start it?
it is never too early to start a bedtime routine, most people suggest starting it at around 6-8 weeks but there is absolutely no harm in starting a good bedtime routine from day one and adapting it slightly as your child grows. For example, in the first week or so you may top and tail your newborn before bed and once the umbilical stump has fallen off start bathing him. Over time you will find what works well and what is pivotal to the routine working.
What does a good routine involve?
A bed time routine should have a calming influence that relaxes and reassures your baby. Over time your newborn will come to expect each and every structured step and will accept that last step as being time to sleep. A good routine should include a bath, a story or stories, some cuddles, calming background music and dimly lit lights. It will also help if you incorporate a massage. The routine should start no later than 30 minutes before bedtime although some routines can take up to one hour. It should be a calm, enjoyable environment that is geared towards calming down and relaxing both body and mind (no bright lights or loud games/music).
How do I know what will work?
in simple terms, a good routine is a good routine and the routine you choose is determined by you. Don’t set yourself up to fail by making it too complex. The best and most effective routines are the most simple as they are easy to follow, calming for both Mum (and Dad) and baby, and are most likely to be implemented long term rather than you giving up after a week or so because it is so exhausting. After 5-7 days of using the same routine you should notice an improvement in your child’s attitude to going to sleep and ability to fall asleep unaided. As your child grows this will also aid your child to sleep for longer periods at night time as her body will have recognised the difference between day and night and her feeding and day time naps will be aligned towards this cycle.