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Did you know that stud­ies indi­cate that as many as 90 per­cent of all par­ents would change some­thing about their baby’s night­time rou­tine if they could? Feel bet­ter now? Obvi­ous­ly, many par­ents are going through the same chal­leng­ing issues you’re fac­ing with your baby at bed­time, so don’t feel so alone and stress too much! Still, it’s tough when you feel like your baby is nev­er going to sleep through the night – we know. That’s espe­cial­ly true for first-time par­ents, many of whom become con­vinced that every­thing they do is wrong and that their baby is pay­ing the price by becom­ing sleep deprived. But in all like­li­hood, you’re doing almost every­thing right, because what your baby needs most of all is uncon­di­tion­al love and devo­tion, and you’re giv­ing them that in spades, right? A few tweaks to your baby’s night­time rou­tine will make them sleep sound­ly and for longer and longer stretches. Once you’ve insti­tut­ed these steps for a few weeks, you’ll find that your baby is sleep­ing bet­ter, longer and more com­fort­ably than you ever thought pos­si­ble. And if the baby sleeps sound­ly, the mom has a chance to sleep sound­ly too. That means every­one is hap­pi­er and more well-rested!

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine

1- Careful How Long You Let Daytime Naps Run

It’s tempt­ing to allow your baby to sleep as long as they like dur­ing the day, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re sleep deprived as a new mom. But the more they sleep dur­ing the day, the less well they sleep at night, so don’t let naps go longer than two and a half hours, at most! This depends in part on how old your infant is, of course – new­born babies sleep almost right through the day, except when they wake for feed­ings. But by the time they are three or four months old, start­ing rous­ing them to play when they’ve been asleep for over two hours, and they’ll be more ready for bed when the time comes.

2- Develop a Structured Routine At Bedtime

Babies need order; it helps them cope with a wild­ly stim­u­lat­ing world that con­stant­ly comes at them from all directions. Be sure they’ve got a fresh dia­per on before bed, turn down the lights, and swad­dle them in a cozy one­sie and snug blan­ket. Then cra­dle them in your arms and sing – any song will do, pro­vid­ing your voice is calm and quiet. Turn on a white noise machine (we’ll get to this step!) and gen­tly put your baby in the crib. Pause for a few moments if you wish to make sure the baby is comfortable.  You should­n’t stand there star­ing until your baby falls asleep, no mat­ter how tempt­ed you are! Babies are drowsy before bed­time, and they will fall asleep quick­ly and eas­i­ly once you’re out of the room.

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine

3- Consider Getting a White Noise Machine

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine These devices are won­der­ful for folks who live in busy areas with a lot of traf­fic or for those who live with some­one who snores loud­ly. They give off a low, con­stant hum, much like a fan, sea­side waves, or even an air con­di­tion­ing unit. Because the sound is steady and at a con­tin­u­ous fre­quen­cy, it lulls peo­ple to sleep. The same prin­ci­ple applies if you put one in your nurs­ery. Fur­ther­more, if you live in a busy house­hold that can’t be dead qui­et because the baby is sleep­ing, it’s a great alter­na­tive to con­stant­ly shush­ing everyone. With a white noise machine in the baby’s room, the teenag­er down the hall who needs music to do their study­ing can play it, no problem.  A white noise machine, on low, gives your baby’s audi­to­ry sens­es some­thing to focus on oth­er than the irreg­u­lar hum of an active household.

4- Resist Rushing In At the Slightest Sound

It isn’t easy to keep from run­ning into your baby’s room at the first sound of them wak­ing, we know! But wait out­side the nurs­ery door for 60 sec­onds or so before going in and pick­ing the baby up for a cuddle. Many babies actu­al­ly make soft nois­es while they are still asleep, and oth­ers rouse for a moment, then fall straight back to sleep when we let them. This prac­tice encour­ages babies to fall asleep on their own some­times, and that’s the goal as they get older.

5- Careful Where You Let Them Fall Asleep

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine

By the time a baby is four or five months old, most can fall asleep alone. If you cud­dle and stay with them until they are asleep and then put them in their crib, it’s not help­ing them. Babies often star­tle awake in the night, and if they’ve fall­en asleep in their crib with­out you, they won’t feel fright­ened when they wake in the night – they’ll know where they are. But if they fall asleep in your bed and rouse at 3 a.m. in their room, the sur­round­ings may feel unfa­mil­iar, and they may start crying.

6- Don’t Feed Them And Put Them Straight To Bed

This guide­line changes depend­ing on your baby’s age, of course. New­borns should be fed on demand. But with­in a few months, start feed­ing them an hour or two before bed­time, so they don’t asso­ciate food with sleep. That’s a tough cycle to break once it starts, and it isn’t healthy once your baby is no longer a newborn.

7- Stick To a Set Bedtime

We all know what hap­pens when grand­ma and grand­pa drop in for a vis­it after sup­per and beg you to keep their pre­cious grand­child awake for a longer vis­it – we’ve all fall­en into that trap! It’s okay once in a great while, but don’t keep your baby awake past 7:30 p.m. Most nights at the lat­est, depend­ing on the baby’s age. In win­ter, that’s not a prob­lem because the sun has long since set by that hour. But in sum­mer, it can be hard­er to get a baby to fall asleep because we have so many more hours of day­light. In those months, make sure the blinds are down or the cur­tains drawn, mak­ing the room as dark – and as qui­et — as possible.

8- Don’t Make Yourself Crazy About This

New par­ents, espe­cial­ly, tend to read scads of mate­r­i­al on “cor­rect” sleep habits for babies, from new­borns to 18 months, and dri­ve them­selves crazy if their baby is not adher­ing to every­thing they read. While being informed is impor­tant, it is equal­ly impor­tant that you set the guide­lines and stick to them when try­ing to insti­tute a sol­id sleep rou­tine that works for everyone.

baby bedtime routine l how to set a baby bedtime routine l good baby bedtime routine l Start a Bedtime Routine for a Baby l how to shift baby bedtime routine

Final Thought!

Babies all need three things: lots of sleep, lots of nour­ish­ment, and lots of love. Oh, and a clean, fresh diaper! Make sure your baby has these things, and you’re bound to have a hap­py, con­tent­ed and well-rest­ed infant. Devel­op a firm sleep rou­tine and stick to it as much as you pos­si­bly can. After all, it’s not only good for the baby – it’s good for the mom, too. And a hap­py mom means a hap­py house­hold, right?! And it is true; last­ing hap­pi­ness comes from an inten­tion­al effort to put the right habits for you and your fam­i­ly in place!
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