It isn’t always easy getting a baby onto a sleep schedule, but there are some things you can do to help your baby sleep better during the night. Most of the things you can do to help baby sleep more or less on schedule boil down to setting a routine. Babies thrive on routines, and you will find they settle in to sleep a lot easier once they are accustomed to having the same things happen before bed time night after night.
Babies can be put on a bedtime routine as early as four months old. You can start going through the motions of a routine before that, if you like, but younger babies will still need to wake up every 2-4 hours to nurse.
There is no set in stone rule concerning what you should or shouldn’t do for setting your baby’s bedtime routine, but here are some ideas:
- Make bedtime the same time every night. It’s OK to lay baby down before she falls asleep. In fact, many baby sleep experts recommend laying baby down while she is sleepy but not yet sleeping, as this will help her learn how to soothe herself to sleep.
- Give baby a nice, warm bath before bedtime. Babies are often relaxed by the warm water, and everyone (babies included) likes to be nice and clean when they are trying to sleep. If your baby gets excited and plays in the tub, however, it’s a good idea to put bath time towards the beginning of the bed time routine, at least an hour before bed. The last thing you want is to try to put your baby down to sleep while she is overly stimulated.
- Read a story to baby. Most babies love being read to. In addition to being a relaxing activity before bedtime, reading to babies has been shown to develop an interest in books and reading that often carries on later in life.
- Sing a bed time song. Whether it’s a favorite lullaby, or any other soft song that you like, singing the same song to baby every night before bedtime signals her that it’s time to go to sleep.
Of course, there are only a few suggestions. There are countless things you can add into your baby’s bedtime routine. Just about anything which is low key and quiet can help babies relax and get ready for bed.