Did you know that you can start creating a bedtime routine from the very beginning of your baby’s life. That’s right! I recommend that you start creating your baby’s bedtime routine when your baby is a newborn. The bedtime routine is part of establishing a healthy sleep foundation for your baby from the very beginning. On the other hand, it’s also never too late to start a bedtime routine. Those of you who have toddlers and are wanting to start a bedtime routine, start now! Whether you have a baby or a toddler, today I want to help guide you in creating your own bedtime routine for your child by using the 3 B’s, bath, books and bed. Before I get into the Three B’s of Bedtime Routine, let me first explain what a bedtime routine is and the importance of a bedtime routine.
What is a Bedtime Routine?:
A routine by definition is like a habit or sequence that doesn’t vary. Your child’s bedtime routine is something that you guys do every night before they go to bed. Rarely changing and consistent. A bedtime routine should start around 30-45 minutes before the predicted bedtime giving your baby/toddler time to prepare their body for sleep. A bedtime routine normally consists of 3-5 that are easily repeated each night before bed.
Why is it Important to have a Bedtime Routine for my Baby/Toddlers Sleep?:
Starting a bedtime routine for your baby/toddler is beneficial for several reasons.
Communication: Having a consistent bedtime routine communicates to your child whats coming next. Rather than placing your baby in bed with no warning, the bedtime routine is communicating/cueing them that bedtime is approaching.
Relaxation: The bedtime routine should be 3-5 steps that prepare and relax your baby/toddler for sleep. Bath, Books, Snuggles with momma/daddy. These are things that your baby/toddler will look forward to and enjoy before bedtime.
Time: Not only is this time for your baby/toddler but also for you. After a busy day at work or a long day at the house, the bedtime routine will become something you look forward to for some more 1-1 time with your little one.
What are the Three B’s of Bedtime Routine?:
The Three B’s are pretty simple: bath, books and bed. Let the Three B’s be your building blocks in creating your baby/toddlers routine and then add in steps within the Three B’s that are unique to your family. What I love about bedtime routines is that everyone’s is a little unique to itself. Make it fun! Before you go off and create your bedtime routine let me explain the Three B’s in more depth.
Bath time is a great time to have fun, but also relax with your baby/toddler before bed. The bath cleans your baby off from the day, allows them time to play with mom/dad one on one and allow the warmth of the water to calm their body for sleep. Bath time has always been my sons biggest cue for bedtime. No matter where we are, if we give him a bath he knows it’s almost bedtime. At first, this can cause some resistance towards bath time because your baby/toddler starts to recognize that bath time means bed time. This is normal and sometimes comes in phases. What I recommend in this situation is to begin incorporating new fun things at bath time to freshen it up for your child and in a sense make it new. Here are some ways to make bath time fun:
Color: Use bath color tablets to add some color to your baby’s bath! What better way to practice learning colors with your child then at bath time! (You can get these in non-toxic versions that are safe for your baby/toddler’s skin.)
Toys: You can get a new bath toy that is only used during bath time or allow your child to play with unconventional toys in the bath such as legos, cars, etc. Switch it up a bit!
Music: Play some music on low during your baby’s/toddler’s bath time. This is a great time to practice nursery rhymes and sing along with your child. Bath time is when Jude and I practice ABC’s, Row Row Row your Boat, Humpty Dumpty, etc. He loves it!
Bedtime is a great time for reading books. Not only is it great for your child’s language development, but it’s also been shown to lower stress levels. We read 2-3 books to Jude each night before bed. Here are some of our favorite bedtime reads:
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Little Blue Truck Series
The Pout-Pout Fish and the Can’t Sleep Blues
Sweet Dreams Pout-Pout Fish
It’s finally bedtime. All the steps of the bedtime routine have been completed and your baby is close to sleep. At this point we are cuddled up in the rocking chair watching and listening to his star gazer. We sit here for 5-10 minutes. The snuggle time is part of his bedtime routine every night and it’s the step I look forward to the most. After a busy day this moment with my baby is when everything feels right in the world. I encourage you to make this part of your bedtime routine with your baby/toddler too! I think overall it’s the most important part of the bedtime routine.
What about T.V.?:
You may have noticed that the bedtime routine does not include television. There is a reason! Child that watch television 30-45 mins before laying down for bed are more likely to wake in the night and have nightmares or night terrors. We want to avoid that and help our baby/toddler get the best night’s rest possible. If you want to watch T.V. designate a time before the bedtime routine to watch T.V., but if your toddler tends to resist the bedtime routine because the T.V. has to go off, I would avoid turning the T.V. on before the bedtime routine at all. Some toddlers can handle it and some just can’t.
If you haven’t started creating a bedtime routine you can start tonight! Let this blog post help you create the bones of your baby/toddlers bedtime routine and then add in a few personal touches. Give it time. With consistency your baby/toddler will look forward to the bedtime routine and so will you!