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Bedtime Routines for Babies and Toddlers


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It’s best to start a bedtime routine as soon as possible with your baby. As young as 6 to 8 weeks, your baby can benefit from establishing a bedtime routine. Having a nightly pattern will allow your baby come to appreciate the consistency. Knowing what’s coming next helps your baby to relax. Being relaxed helps your baby to go to bed easier and fall asleep faster. Even when you are away from home, try to keep your baby’s routine. While trying to settle down your baby in an unfamiliar place, the routine can help make it easier.

Giving your baby a bath, putting on pajamas, story time, or playing a game are some ideas to include in your routine. Choose activities that are calming to your baby instead of being exciting so it is easier to fall asleep.

A bedtime routine is not only good for your baby but for the parents also. It gives a special time for bonding at the end of a long day. Here are some ideas for bedtime routines you may want to try.

Sometimes before settling your baby down allow him or her to release pent up energy. Having a horsy ride or bouncing in a bouncer or on a knee is great ways to let off some steam. After all this excitement, be sure to follow up with an activity that is calming and quiet. Only do this if your baby falls asleep easily when it’s bedtime otherwise it’s probably too much excitement.

The bedtime ritual that has a soothing effect is a bath. Your baby gets warm, clean and usually relaxed. Try using lavender scented baby wash for an aromatherapy bath. It’s probably best to skip the bath for a nighttime ritual if it awakens your baby or your baby doesn’t like them very much.

Play peek-a-boo, stack blocks, or have some floor time. Playing quiet games add some fun to your bedtime routine.

Reading a bedtime story to your baby is one of the most popular routines parents establish. This benefits your baby by exposing him or her to a large vocabulary, which helps with language skills.

Playing CDs or tapes of classical music, lullabies, or kids’ favorites can drown out outside noise. This may help your baby go to sleep faster if they listen to the music. If you don’t want to play music, use a sound machine instead. Sound machines usually play nature sounds like rain or ocean waves. It is a good idea not to let your baby rely on music or sounds unless you plan to take it with you should you have to travel.

Try singing to your baby at night. Sing a well-known song and start a tradition in your family. Your baby will eventually learn that after the song is complete, it’s time for sleep.

As you’re taking your baby to bed, say good night to household objects, pets, people, favorite toys or other items. This is a fun way for your baby to recognize bedtime and no favorite stuffed animals are left out.

There are many activities you can include in your bedtime ritual. Have fun experimenting with the different methods and choose the ones that work for you and your baby.

Michael Russell
Your Independent Baby and Toddler guide.

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  • Posted On January 15, 2007
  • Published articles 283513

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