Sleep is an absolute necessity. Not just for your baby but also for the whole family, and the only way to ensure that positive sleeping habits exist, is to establish a good bedtime routine.
For children under one year of age, it’s important that you as the parent establish and maintain the routine. Sure, we all get busy doing various things at the end of the day, and even relaxation can be something we look forward to so desperately that responsibilities can fall by the wayside. But putting baby to bed will be easier and less stressful if you stick to a pattern and continue with it on a daily basis, unless unforseen circumstances prevent.
A baby’s necessities are basically food, comfort and love. Satisfy all these things and you’ll have a healthy, contented child. It’s the same with bedtime. Make sure she’s fed, warm, dry and soothed, and she’ll fall asleep without a great deal of fuss.
Last feed of the day
After a busy day, the last feed should be accompanied by quietness, and an air of relaxation promoted. Try to make time to feed your baby when you are not rushed with dinner, preparing lunches for the next day or trying to do dishes and help with older children’s homework. If your child is on solids, she should be included in the family mealtime, even if her tummy has already been satisfied, so that she derives a sensation of togetherness and security amongst her siblings and parents.
Most under 1’s can benefit from a nighttime bath. Tiny babies will enjoy the relaxation and the closeness with Mom or Dad. Crawlers will be pretty grubby by day’s end and a spell in the tub is an excellent way of refreshing the skin and hair, and preparing to go down for sleep.
Reassurance is essential at bedtime. Cuddles and gentle talk sets the mood for peaceful slumber and lets your baby know that she is loved and safe.
This is a technique that can be very useful in helping baby to relax, especially if you’ve all had a hectic day. The slow hand movements and warmth of skin on skin will convey the message that it’s time to wind down, and no one can resist the sleepy sensations a wonderful massage can bring. Use a little talcum powder to facilitate the movement of your hands. Try also massaging the scalp, or even a finger tracing her eyebrow can be particularly mesmerizing!
Parents often mistakenly think that the more they tire their baby out, the more likely it’ll be that she’ll go off to sleep at the right time. Wrong. An overtired baby is not easy to settle, so ease off on the games and singsongs and avoid passing her around unnecessarily.
The more you can stick to a routine, and create repetition in your baby’s life, the more she’ll respond in a positive way because she’ll get a better idea of what to expect.
Babies respond to smells and sounds more than actual words, and certainly better than keeping an eye on the clock! The fragrance of talcum powder might remind her of the last massage you gave her, and she’ll remember the sleepy calmness she felt. Hearing the house volume decrease and everyone talking in more hushed tones is another sign she’ll recall as time to wind down. The more you repeat in building a routine, the more she will recognize the signs of it being night and time for a good, long sleep.