Advice Column, Baby, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

What you should know about your baby’s naps and their bedtime routine from a sleep expert

  • Brave Little Baby
  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler

At Brave Little baby we believe in predictability and consistency which underpin a foundation of safety, security and calmness in a child’s life. Following the same steps and setting up sleepy cues are the key to creating the ideal bedtime routine for your little one. 

These steps we suggest can aid your little one in sleeping well at night, too. Having a great bedtime routine is where you build your relationship with one-on-one quality time, without any interruptions, and you convey the message, “You are important to me” to your small child.

Babies will soon become accustomed to their bedtime routine, and some may even show you signs that they are ready for it. “I had a mom who said her toddler would grab his lovey and start saying goodbye and walking her to his room to start their wind-down time.” 

How wonderful!

Setting the stage with a consistent nap and bedtime routine is good for healthy sleep habits and may help your little one to start forming healthy sleep associations.

So how would one go about finding the perfect bedtime routine for one’s baby?

I’m almost sure that when you go to bed at night, you have a sleep routine. Jumping into bed with your shoes and work clothes on, will lead to a night of poor sleep. A probable sleep routine may be that you brush your teeth, wash your face, change into pajamas and maybe read for a little while before you switch the lights off. This is the same for babies or toddlers. They need consistent recurring events to help set them up for a good night. It will signal and play out as a sleepy cue that baby will recognise and know what to do next. It is also applicable to their day time naps.  This may lead to the most special moments you may have with your little one as it is quality time spent with mom or dad. Moreover, both feelings of love and security will become the norm. This is also a lovely time to include dad if he has been away for work commitments. 

When would be a good time to implement a naptime routine for baby?

A naptime routine or a wind down is a good idea from 6 weeks on, it can be 10-15 minutes for small babies and then range to 20-30 minutes for older children. It all depends on the activity that took place before the nap. One would want to help their little bodies and brain realize that they are tired and need to sleep. Plan this wind down before their awake window is over so that you can help them fall asleep on time.

When would be a good time to implement a bedtime routine for baby?

When you have a newborn at home, enjoy the precious moments with the new little person without any pressure from schedules and routines. It is best to get to recognise your infant’s hunger and sleepy cues, and fulfilling their needs by responding appropriately. You may want to start implementing a bedtime routine at around 6-8 weeks. A good routine could last for 10 minutes. Before they start showing signs of tiredness, take them to a quiet environment, swaddle them, put on your white noise and dim the lights in the room. That will be enough for your little one to start recognising the sleepy cues.

TIP: Here is also a great tip to help your little one connect the past, present and the future.A nice bedtime habit to start with your child is to recapture the day. You can say, for example, “Today we went for a walk and it rained. We came home and had lunch,” etc. What we think is probably unimportant, may be important to our children, what they ate, where they were, who they saw. Recapturing the day is a way of giving security. Your little one will carry the good feelings of their day to bed with them. You can also talk about what will happen tomorrow. 

What a gift to be able to help our children learn about their days and love their naps!

How to establish a bedtime routine

Getting the timing just right will help you know when your little ones naturally feels tired. Watch them for a few days and write down roughly the time when they start showing that they are tired. Begin to make your bedtime ritual 20-30 minutes before they are visibly tired and catch them at the perfect time!

Letting your baby sleep in the same spot is very important in establishing a healthy connotation to their sleep environment. We recommend 6 weeks to start laying your baby down in a dark room that is familiar to him or her. It may happen that your little one falls asleep in the pram or in the car. A helpful note would be to at least have one nap in their familiar environment with all their sleepy cues and also the same spot for their nighttime sleep.

Practice putting them down calm but awake: This is a skill that needs to be practiced, and babies can only master it when they get the opportunity to. This will help them sleep on their own throughout the nigh, too, as you would like them to know where they fall asleep.

As children grow and mature, start bringing other aspects into the bedtime routine. The day will come that your little one won’t be interested in reading picture books anymore, then exchange it with something age appropriate.

Consistency is the key!!!!

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