How do you get a baby into a routine?
1. Introduce a bedtime routine for baby early on
The trick to getting baby into a bedtime routine is to introduce it earlier rather than later. The younger they are when the bedtime routine is introduced, the better chance you’ll have at creating a routine you can all work around.
After your baby has reached two months old, you can begin to establish a bedtime routine that is likely to stick – this will help to create a better structure so you can steal a few more winks here and there while they’re napping. Read our tips to help with establishing a bedtime routine for baby:
- Putting their sleep-suit/pajamas on – they will associate the soft material of their baby clothing with their bedtime routine.
- Breast or bottle feeding just before sleep – avoid as many midnight get-ups as you can by making sure baby goes to bed well fed.
- Bathing your baby before bed – this will help them to associate the relaxing feeling of being bathed with bedtime to follow.
2. Teach them the difference between day and night
Establishing a bedtime routine for baby can be tough. After all, getting confused between day and night is common for little ones, but there are ways you can help you them understand the difference. Should baby sleep in dark rooms, and how quiet does it need to be for them to doze off?
- Change baby’s clothes in the morning and before bed – they will begin to notice the change and relax or wake in response.
- Control the light in your home to reflect the time of day – babies respond to external cues, like light, so keeping the curtains open and making the room light will keep your baby active during the day. Come night time, make rooms as dark as possible to teach them when it’s time to sleep.
- Make sure it’s silent – similar to light, babies can be influenced by sounds. Keep your home as quiet as possible when it’s time for getting baby into a bedtime routine.
- Avoid talking to your baby during night feeds – keep the house lively and chatty during the day, but come night time feeds, let your baby know that it’s sleep time by maintaining a soothing atmosphere.
3. Know the newborn baby sleeping cues
Learning your baby’s sleeping cues will help you to put them down at the best time for snoozing. Every baby is different, so understanding your baby sleeping signs is helpful. Some may yawn, some may cry, some may feel needier for attention – it can take time to figure out what all your baby’s emotions mean, but they can go from tired to over-tired in a matter of minutes.
Look out for some of these newborn baby sleeping cues:
- Decreased activity and less vocal
- Disinterested in surroundings
- Eyes that begin to look glazed over
- Thumb sucking
4. Adjust the sleeping routine to suit your baby’s growth and age
Although you may have mastered all the above steps, your baby’s development can change their bedtime routine. As well as nearly tripling their weight, crawling and sitting (and maybe even walking), baby’s first year is full of milestones. Growth spurts can increase the need for night-time feeds, while the excitement of a newly learned skill may make your little one reluctant to settle at night.
On the flip-side, as baby gets older, they’ll gradually reduce their need for day time naps, moving towards a sleeping routine that more closely resembles your own. Your baby’s sleep routine will need to adapt to suit these changes – so keep a flexible approach and make small, subtle changes as your little one grows.
5. Remember that there might be setbacks – and that’s okay!
You can introduce a sleep routine for baby from about two months old, but remember that it will take time. Establishing a bedtime routine for baby won’t always be plain sailing because they’re still learning how to do basic human things, for example, how to regulate their own body temperature whilst sleeping. There will be things that will disrupt your baby from learning their sleeping routine.
If any of these happen, don’t be too harsh on yourself as a parent:
- Traveling and holidays – if baby has grown used to sleeping in their crib in their own bedroom, they might find it uneasy to drift off in an unfamiliar location.
- Nannies – baby will get used to the scent, feel and voice of the caregiver who puts them down to sleep, so be mindful that introducing a new caregiver could disrupt the process of establishing a sleep routine for baby.
Now you’re more in the loop about how to get your baby into a routine. If you’re looking for more baby sleep tips, you can learn how much newborns should sleep and the correct sleeping temperature for babies.