Be mindful of what time bedtime is, depending on how old your little one is. Newborns need to go to bed much later than what people often think. They aren’t secreting melatonin yet (our sleepy time hormone), which can make an earlier bedtime a big challenge. Many families struggle with evening crying with their newborn and try for hours to get them settled and asleep. Instead of trying to put your newborn to bed at 7:00 PM, try using the skin-to-skin technique and letting them cluster feed (breast or bottle) and doze. Then around 10:00 PM, start your bedtime routine. This will make the world of difference in how challenging bedtime is. At around 3-4 months, you will see bedtime move drastically earlier, with your little one being ready for bed between 7:00-8:00 PM.
Watch for what tired looks like in your child. If your little one is yawning, rubbing their eyes or requiring a lot of attention and help to stay satisfied, they are likely ready for bed. You will likely see these signs arise around the same time each night, and a pattern emerges. Following their lead will make bedtime easier.
In the evenings, close the blinds and dim the lights an hour or so before bed. This will help calm your household, and trigger an increase in sleepy hormones, making bedtime easier.
Routine, even in infancy helps our children understand what comes next. It makes them feel safe and secure. Doing the same bedtime routine each night with your baby, helps them understand that sleep comes next. A bath during the bedtime routine can be very helpful as it is often the only part of their day that looks different. Feed baby before the bath, filling their bellies before sleep. Choose the same sleep sack each night and read a story. Your baby may start to fuss during the routine- they know sleep is coming! It is okay to make the routine fun. Lots of snuggles, hugs and chatter during the feed, bath and jammies will help your child learn to enjoy the nightly routine.
Each night won’t be perfect, and it’s okay to speed up the routine if you need. Skipping a bath the odd night won’t “wreck” everything. Your little one is so loved, and you are doing fantastic.