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Sleep Routine Ideas to Get Your Baby Sleeping Well. A sleep routine helps your baby know it is time for sleep. Keep sleep routines consistent each time.
It is a good idea to have a solid routine before sleep time to signal your little one that it is time to sleep. Below are some ideas for a naptime routine and a bedtime routine so you can aid your little one in going to sleep quickly.
Nap Routine Ideas
I prefer the least amount of “show” prior to a nap–especially now knowing that the older they get, the more tactics they use to delay bedtime. I want to have as few tactics in place to start with because believe me, your child will do everything he can think of to make naptime come a little later. A drink of water, a story, a hug, a kiss, a song, one more song, last song…you get the picture. They are smart!
- With a newborn, many people like to rock their baby to a point of sleepiness before putting them down in the crib. I think this is a good idea. I didn’t do it with either children, but will possibly do it with the next. If you choose to do this, be sure to stop it at a young age. You want to move to a really CIO when your child is old enough, and you will have to feel that out. My thoughts are I will stop around 3-4 weeks old if I think baby is ready for it. I would guess most babies would be ready to stop this by 8 weeks. You don’t want your baby to become dependent on rocking; it is only something to help a young baby have more success with CIO. Only do it if your child needs it.
- Here is my routine with my nearly 9 month old. It has been the same since birth. I kiss her and hug her, etc. Then I lay her down in her bed and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to her. Then I tell her to sleep well and that I love her and that she my princess, etc. Then I kiss my fingers and touch her nose. She smiles at me the whole time. Recently, she has started to roll to her tummy and start trying to scoot around the bed. I just leave her that way because when I put her back on her back she cries.
- Here is my routine with my 2.5 year old. His routine has evolved over time. It started the same as Kaitlyn’s is now, but as he got older (about 16 months old), he started requesting things. We read a story for a while, but I curbed that because he was using it as a delay tactic. I also curbed it because I realized once I had the new baby (Kaitlyn) she would have a feeding at 1 and his nap starts at 1. I needed a routine that was consistently under 5 minutes. I do the hugs, kisses, etc. He lays in bed and I sing “Brahma’s Lullaby”( I am kind of sentimental about stuff so I gave each child their own song). As I sing, I rub his back if he is laying on his belly. Then I tell him to have a nice nap, assure him we will play once he gets up, and that I love him, etc.
Bedtime Routine Ideas
You will want a routine for bedtime also. Bedtime routines are often different from nap routines, and that is a good idea. Babies are smart and will recognize that something different is coming.
- Many people do their baths at night to settle their children down for the night. I do my baths in the morning so it is not included in my routine, but it could be in yours.
- Our bedtime routine is pretty much the same for each child. For the nearly 9 month old, I put her in her pajamas. Then I read her one story. Then we say a prayer with her. This is followed by hugs and kisses. Then I put her in bed, sing, and tell her I love her and end with “I will see you in the morning time, love you!” (there are times it is not I, but my husband doing these things).
- For the 2.5 year old, our routine is very similar. My husband puts him in his pajamas and then Brayden picks three stories to read. Then they read the stories followed by hugs and kisses. Then I take Brayden to bed and we have a prayer. Then he lays down, I cover him with blankies, and I sing. Then I tell him I love him and to sleep well and that I will see him in the morning time (as with Kaitlyn, there are nights the roles of mommy and daddy are reversed). I would like to note that it is a good idea to limit the number of books read at bedtime, otherwise story time can really be drawn out. It is also nice to do it somewhere other than the bed or even the bedroom. Then you read your stories and go off to bed rather than already being there.
You can do whatever you want for your routines. Just be sure what you do has the following criteria:
- It is consistent day to day and night to night.
- It covers the necessities.
- It is cozy and happy. You don’t want naptime and bedtime to become a battle.
- You can do it anywhere. You want to be able to go out of town and visit people and places. If you use things specific to your home, you will not have as pleasant of a trip.
For more nap routine ideas, see Sample Nap Routines.
Reader Sleep Routine Questions:
- Salina said…
Does your daughter cry at nap time or bedtime when you lie her down? My son still does-also almost 9 months and I was wondering if this will always happen. He is fine through out our routine (read/rock, then sing, hugs, kisses- then I put him down and walk out). He almost immediately starts crying at that point for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes, he has bad days too, like yesterday when he cried and wouldn’t go to sleep for his 2nd nap.
January 9, 2008 3:15 PM
No, she doesn’t cry at all. She rarely cried past about 6-8 weeks. I do have a friend who did BW from birth and CIO from birth whose son cried for about 5 minutes until somewhere between 1-2 years. So it isn’t unheard of. I would wonder about crying through a nap though. How old was he when you started CIO?
January 9, 2008 3:26 PM
- Sharon said…
I have a 4 month old who has a pacifier. She is not hooked on it to go to sleep but she will wake in the middle of a nap and if I put the pacifier in she’ll sleep for another hour or hour and a half. If I do CIO how long do I let it go on? She usually does one short nap (45-1 hr) in the morning and by 1 pm she’ll sleep 2-3 hours then a couple of short ones in the evening. My concern about letting her CIO is she may wake my two year old in the room next to hers. How many days until I see results?January 27, 2008 8:59 PM
Sharon,That is hard to say. My guess would be 3-14 days, but you never know. Do you have a play yard you can put baby in to sleep somewhere not next to your 2 YO? I understand your not wanting to wake him.Have you gone through a checklist to see if you can first fix why she is waking early? See Troubleshooting nap problems: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/naps-troubleshooting.htmlIf you can’t move baby to another location and have tried all you can to fix the early waking, you might just continue on as you are and wait for her to “outgrow” the need. I would watch for a dependency on the pacifier and avoid that.January 28, 2008 1:24 PM
- sarah said…
To piggyback off of that…one more question. When do you recommend the last nursing if bedtime is 8? Do I need to do it right before bed as part of the bedtime routine, or can it be earlier, around 7 or so, and if it can, does that mean waketime needs to be earlier?
January 28, 2008 5:43 PM
Kaitlyn nurses, then is in bed about 30-60 minutes later. She eats solids at that time. So she eats, gets ready for bed, and goes to bed. Exactly when to feed would depend on when the feeding was before that. If you feed at 7, 8 can be bedtime. If you feed at 5:30, then I would definitely do a feeding just before bed.
January 30, 2008 7:11 PM
- Rachel said…
My baby is 5.5 weeks old and I was wondering if I am supposed to start putting her down for bed after the 7pm feeding and then waking her for her 10pm feeding and then putting her back down again? We have just been putting her to bed for bedtime after the 10pm feeding, since that was the last one.Thanks for the help,Rachel
April 6, 2008 5:41 PM
You can do what is best for your family. With my oldest, his bedtime was later since my husband got home from work at 8. As he got older, my husband got at new job and started getting home at 4:30, so his bedtime moved up. With my daughter, her bedtime has always been after the 7ish feeding. If you can do that one, that is the one I would choose 🙂
April 6, 2008 10:31 PM