Humans are creatures of habit, and whether we realize it or not, we all follow a bedtime routine before going to sleep. Few of us would say that we come back from work and head straight to sleep without winding down or getting ready for bed. An adult’s bedtime routine might look something like this: first, you take a shower, then have a cup of chamomile tea, brush your teeth, then apply any face serums and moisturizer, and maybe finish the evening with some light reading before finally heading to bed. Following this series of steps in the same order every night establishes habits that help your brain recognize that it’s time to go to sleep. Similarly, your baby benefits from a bedtime routine that is both consistent and predictable. Since the brain begins to wind down a few hours before bedtime, following a nighttime routine makes that process more efficient and leads to more restful sleep—for your baby and you. A bedtime routine will look different from family to family, and you should follow the one that works for yours. Although the order may vary, these bedtime steps can help set a peaceful, calming mood for optimal sleep.
A soothing bath
A warm bath is one of the most soothing, comforting ways to wind down before bed. Hey, there’s a reason that it’s considered a form of self-care! One-on-one bath time with your baby is also a wonderful opportunity to bond. Whether you get into the bathtub together, or you place them into an infant tub, it involves gentle touch and attentive care. Take a soft washcloth like these made from bamboo, or a sea sponge like this one for gentle cleansing and exfoliation. Using baby wash formulated with chamomile or lavender is a great way to get your little one super relaxed and calm.
Studies suggest that giving your baby a gentle massage can help boost their production of melatonin, a hormone that plays a central role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. The body naturally produces more melatonin with evening darkness, which promotes healthy sleep. After giving your baby a bath, you may already apply baby lotion to their body. Use this time to incorporate a gentle massage, which can help ease their gas pains, put your baby into a relaxed state, and also make you feel calm and happy. After all, a happy baby means a happy parent!
Your baby may not be able to understand everything you read to them yet, but reading books is still a highly beneficial activity that boosts their cognitive development and language skills. Not to mention, reading is also a calming activity. It’s the reason so many of us enjoy reading before bedtime. While TV and phone screens are highly stimulating and have been proven to actually hinder sleep, books provide a quiet and slow activity that’s perfect for helping the brain calm down. Incorporate books into your bedtime routine for some quiet bonding time that both of you will look forward to every evening.
We all know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against the use of loose blankets in the crib for at least the first 12 months of life, but we all might not know that there’s an even better alternative: sleep bags. Our sleep bags are essentially wearable blankets, delivering all the comfort and warmth of a soft baby blanket, without the suffocation risk. The bamboo rayon fabric is buttery soft, highly breathable, 3°C cooler than cotton, hypoallergenic, and naturally antibacterial. Our sleep bags are designed to keep your baby at the perfect temperature, which helps them sleep better and longer. Another benefit? The simple act of zipping your little one up into their sleep bag acts as a strong sleep cue, letting them know it’s time for bed.
Lights off, sound machine on
When it comes to baby products, there are some you could easily do without, and then there are others—the lifesavers. A sound machine is perhaps the single best purchase you can make when you’re expecting a baby. After spending 9 months in the womb hearing the sound of your beating heart, the whooshing of blood rushing around your body, the sound of your breathing, and other noises within the body, your baby is used to a cacophony of noise ranging from 70 to 91 decibels. That’s the level of sound a vacuum cleaner makes! So, one can imagine how coming into a quiet world where everyone tiptoes and whispers around you might be disconcerting and make it harder to stay asleep. Sound machines deliver constant white noise that not only blocks out other sounds like a barking dog, a chiming doorbell, or the roaring engine of a motorcycle zooming past, but also creates a comforting, womb-like environment that helps your little one stay asleep longer. When it’s time to go to bed, turning on the sound machine as one of the steps in your nighttime routine can instantly calm your baby and help them fall asleep faster.
Lullaby and good night
Singing is a powerful tool that promotes the bond between you and your baby. Studies have shown that lullabies comfort both parent and baby, and can also benefit a baby’s cognitive development. Babies tune into songs more than words, and because they love the sound of your voice, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think you’re a good singer. Sing their favorite lullaby before bed and say a simple, memorable phrase like “Night night, I love you” or “Sweet dreams'' to your baby every single night before closing the bedroom door. These are both effective last steps in the bedtime routine that will help them regulate their emotions, feel close to you, and feel content at the end of the day.
Once you find the routine that works for you and your baby, it’s important to stick to it. Take a leaf out of Ivan Pavlov’s book and use the predictable routine as a conditioning cue for bedtime. Following the steps in your routine in the same order every night will eventually teach your baby to expect sleep from the very first step. At the start of the routine, their brain will already begin to wind down and help them get nice and sleepy for a restful night. If the baby’s awake, everyone is awake. Establishing a solid bedtime routine will make nighttime peaceful for the entire family, so that everyone feels refreshed the next morning.