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Routines are not always boring. They can be immensely useful, and well, adorable. Case in point: a bedtime routine can help your baby fall asleep quickly and happily, and simultaneously give you more tender, loving together-time in which you could read to your baby or bathe him/her or just play together till your little one is all out of energy!

You can introduce sleep routines when your baby is two months old. Your bedtime routines should not be very long, though: 20-30 minutes will suffice for your baby.

Simple things like a bath, a gentle massage, changing into pyjamas or a special song you only use at nighttime can help your baby understand when it is time to close his/her eyes and go to sleep.

But there’s more to it: a bedtime routine is a good way to inculcate some healthy sleeping habits in your baby. The regular and disciplined practice of sleep routines will benefit you in the long run.

Read more: Tips on Getting More Sleep When You Have a Baby at Home

  1. Baby bedtime routine tips and benefits

Overtired babies may have difficulty sleeping. A regular bedtime routine disciplines the body clock of the baby and helps him/her to establish regular sleeping patterns. Knowing what to expect next, releases your baby's anxiety and helps him/her fall asleep faster.

Once your baby is comfortable with the routine, he/she will also find it easier to go to bed when you and your partner are away - say, for office work or for a party.

Before you begin, though, keep in mind that every baby is different. A routine which works for one baby may not work for another. So you may have to try a few different methods before you find the perfect sleep routine for your baby. Here are some pointers that might help you quell the tears and turn bedtime into something both you and your baby look forward to:

  • Understand your baby’s sleep: The timings and habits vary from baby to baby. Hence, before setting up a sleep routine for your baby, observe his/her sleeping habits closely. Notice when he/she falls asleep and for how long. Schedule the sleep routine thirty minutes earlier than your baby’s sleeping time. For example, if your baby falls asleep at 8.30 pm, then start your routine by 8 pm. Don’t wait for him/her to sleep, instead lay the baby down in the crib when he/she is drowsy.
  • Take one step at a time: Instead of trying multiple things together, introduce the bedtime practices you want to include in your routine one by one. You could opt for gentle massages, warm baths, singing or humming to the baby or turning off the lights - one at a time - to see what works for your baby. It's important not to rush things. Notice how your baby responds to each activity - patiently.
  • Don’t wait for him/her to fall asleep: The idea of the sleep routine is that you shouldn't have to stay by your baby's side till he/she falls asleep. Instead, you should put your baby in his/her crib when he/she begins to yawn and looks drowsy. It may not work with every baby, but you should definitely give it a try. It will help your baby fall asleep on his/her own and he/she will not be dependent on you for sleep.
  • Stick to one corner of the house: A routine means following the same pattern on a daily basis. You probably have a favourite corner in the house where you like to relax or eat. Perhaps you also find it comfortable to sleep at one particular side of the bed. This is because your subconscious mind is trained to relate that particular spot with a certain emotion or feeling. The same thing applies to your baby.
    Select one particular corner of the house for your baby's sleep routine, and take him/her to only that place for his/her bedtime routine. Don’t experiment with this much.
  • See what works for your baby: Don’t compare your baby with other babies. Just because something worked for your nephew doesn’t mean that it will work for your baby as well. Try every bedtime routine and stick to the one which works best for your baby. Bedtime routines should not just be about helping your baby sleep somehow. It should include lots of love, care and cuddling. No sleep routine can work without these elements.
  • Let your baby be ready for sleep: Don’t force your baby to fall asleep. If your baby has some pent up energy then wait for him/her to exhaust it. Play with your baby for a while. Carry him/her on your back or just run around after him/her. Your baby will soon be ready to hit the bed.
  • Warm bath as a sleep routine: Most of us follow this routine ourselves. A hot water bath opens up our blood vessels at the skin surface and eases our body. Giving your baby a warm bath or just making him/her sit in the warm water may calm him/her. You and your partner and pehpas another family member could take turns to bathe the baby, as this too will reduce dependence on you for sleep and other comforts.
    Some babies don’t like to take a bath at all, and instead of relaxing them, the bath can actually stimulate them. In that case, forget the baths. There are so many other things you can try for your baby.
  • Bring out the pyjamas: Wash your baby's face, hands and toes. Wipe them dry and slip your baby into his/her night pyjamas. Wearing the same clothes every night will help him/her understand that it is now time to get ready for bed.
  • Give your baby a gentle massage: Choose a good mild baby oil and give your baby a gentle massage. Gently run your fingers through his/her hair and stroke his/her forehead. Your baby will soon fall asleep with a smile.
  • Turn off the lights: A newborn baby is not familiar with the concepts of day and night. Switch off the lights and turn the room dark. This will help the baby to understand the difference between day and night.
  • Sing a song to your baby: Your baby loves to hear your voice. Sing a lullaby or just hum a song. The rhythm of the song and your sweet voice will help him/her to drift into the world of sleep.
  • Play some slow music: Slow and melodious music works for everyone. Studies have shown that it can help even insomniacs fall asleep. Turn on some slow and soft music for your baby. It will help in the transition from open eyes to falling asleep. White noises like that of a machine or an app may also work for some babies.
  • Stick to bedtime routines: Don’t lose heart and patience too early. Some babies may take some time to warm up to the practice. But stay assured that the discipline of routines will be of great help for you and your baby.

Read more: Newborn Sleep: First 24 Hours

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References

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  2. Schmitt B.D. (1991) When Baby Just Won’t Sleep. In: Gottlieb M.I., Williams J.E. (eds) Developmental-Behavioral Disorders. Critical Issues in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Springer, Boston, Massachusetts: 261-278
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