There is some debate over whether or not it’s a good idea to give a baby a bath right before bedtime or not. We suppose this debate probably stems from the fact that different babies respond to baths in different ways.
Most babies enjoy baths. As long as the water is a comfortable temperature and you play with them a little while you are bathing them, it’s a positive experience. Babies like to be clean, and most parents find that their babies do sleep better when they are clean. But should you give your baby a bath right before bed time or a little earlier?
That really depends on you and your baby. If your baby gets excited when you place her in the bath tub and splashes, kicks and squeals in delight, you might want to give her a bath at least two or three hours before putting her in bed. No one wants to nod off to sleep when they’re stimulated, and you’ll usually find it hard to get a baby to sleep when she has just gotten done playing, unless of course she completely wears herself out.
If, on the other hand, your baby relaxes, sighs, and watches you intently while you give her a gentle, warm bath, you might want to consider giving her a bath shortly before bed time. Anything that helps baby relax is a good idea before bedtime. And if your baby is one who relaxes in the tub, a bath can be a perfect part of the bed time routine.
The real trick to getting your baby to fall asleep at night (or any time for that matter) is to start winding down the stimulation before you want her to go to sleep. Many babies will resist sleep is there is too much going on around them. Just like anyone else, they want to have fun. Of course, once they reach the point of crankiness, it’s no fun for them, you, or anyone else.
Most parents find that bedtime routines are helpful in getting older babies onto a sleep schedule. Whether or not that includes bath time is largely dependant on how your baby reacts to the bath. In any case, use routines to your advantage by starting to make baby’s environment relaxing and removing her from things that will stimulate her about an hour before bedtime. You’ll find that she nods off to sleep a bit easier that way.