Babies don’t follow the same bedtime routines from their first days to their sixth months. Understanding what stage your baby is in can help you create an optimal bedtime routine to keep your baby happy and allow you to have some much-needed time with your partner without being too tired!
If you know what to expect, your baby’s bedtime routine and schedule will be easier on you both. In this article, we’ll cover the different stages of baby bedtime routines, as well as the best practices that go along with them to create healthy and happy babies, such as using a baby sleep sack to keep them warm, cozy, and safe!
Baby’s Bedtime Routine
The Newborn Stage
To say that newborns need to sleep like babies is an understatement. Newborns spend most of their sleeping hours doing just that—sleeping! It’s not uncommon for them to take short naps, usually 45 minutes or less, and long naps during daylight hours. Their bedtime routine can be short and sweet too.
The routine varies among families, but it often involves bathing, swaddling in a breathable baby blanket, and holding close until they drift off in their mother’s arms (or someone else’s). Remember that newborn nap times are still changing; you might see your little one at its best between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., even if they aren’t going down for good at night.
This is an excellent stage to start a bedtime routine by being consistent, having a noise machine, a bedtime book, an aromatherapy diffuser with a lavender scent, etc. that can signal to babies that it’s nighttime so that they can start to recognize the difference between daytime and nighttime sleep.
The Four-to-Six Month Old Stage
Four to six months old, your baby is developing new skills and has begun testing those boundaries. She’s sitting up, smiling, and interacting more with her world. Around six months old, she will probably start eating solids at mealtimes.
Your little one may be ready for night-weaning at five or six months old. Babies at this stage usually drop an extra afternoon nap and sleep better through the night. Some babies may wake once or twice, but most can go all night without waking. If your baby is still waking frequently during his first few hours of sleep (or hasn’t started sleeping longer stretches), he may not be ready for nighttime weaning yet.
It’s also important to remember that some babies don’t want to give up their breastfeeding sessions yet! But if you’ve tried weaning several times and your baby still seems uncomfortable with it, it might be time to move on to solid foods before bedtime.
The Ten Months to One-Year-Old Stage
In one year, you’ll go through more stages of sleep than your baby will. Babies can be trained to sleep through various stimuli, making it easier to get them to sleep anywhere. The teaching of the nap stage begins around four months; by ten months, they should be able to take naps at home or in other people’s houses.
During these months, it may become more vital for you and your partner (if you have one) to develop a consistent and workable bedtime routine that incorporates practices that work well for both of you — whether that means holding him until he falls asleep or reading a book together before tucking him in.
Consistency is Key in a Baby’s Bedtime Routine
Babies go through stages when it comes to bedtime, so consistency is vital. In other words, stick with your routine as long as the baby seems comfortable and falls asleep without trouble.
Once you start to notice signs that the baby is ready for a change, follow your child’s lead. Here are some ways to tell if your child is ready for her bedtime routine to switch up:
● Baby has been sleeping well but now wakes more frequently at night: This could be a sign that baby is ready for an earlier bedtime.
● If she’s waking more frequently because she’s hungry or needs a diaper change, try feeding or changing her before putting her back down in her crib. Then, continue your routine (singing lullabies, etc.) until she goes back to sleep on her own.
● You might also want to consider moving up your schedule by 15 minutes every few days until you find what works best for you. But don’t make any changes at once—it will only confuse the baby!
Adapting your baby’s bedtime routine as they grow older is essential. Since each stage of development is different, there are distinct changes you should make to ensure your baby is getting enough sleep and learning good habits. The earlier you can identify when your baby is ready for bed and be open to making changes, the more likely it will help keep him/her on track.