Bring Routine Back

The holidays are over. My days are again in a familiar schedule. I am no longer traveling or sleeping in a different bed with different sounds and sights. It is comforting to be back in my familiar routine. Sleeping in my own bed feels wonderful.

Children also need the comfort of their familiar bed and routine which brings the child a feeling of security. They love to anticipate what is going to happen next. Some babies recognize when they are in their feeding position and are immediately ready to eat. Some babies recognize what is coming the minute you put a bib on them.

A bedtime routine is a clue to the child that sleep is coming. I have seen some children relax and put their favorite fingers in their mouth as their sleep sack is put on. They anticipate sleep and their body begins to prepare for sleep.

I recommend starting a bedtime routine with your child by the time they are 10-12 weeks old. It is important to keep the same routine in the same order each bedtime. Consistency is the key.

You may put into your routine anything which you and your child would enjoy. (You will repeat this routine many, many times so choose things you don’t mind repeating.)

reading to Desmond

Suggestions of what you might want to include in the bedtime routine:

– nursing or bottle
– bath
– massage
– diaper change
– pajamas and/or sleep sack
– read a book
– special lullaby song
– saying “good night” to family members and/or toys
– turning on a sound machine
– turning off the light
– snuggle and/or rocking together

The bedtime routine is meant to relax the child to prepare for sleep. The goal is not to put the child to sleep; they need to finish that job in their bed. The routine should not be longer than 20 minutes unless a bath is included.

The bedtime routine is a great opportunity to enjoy the end of another day with your child. Both of you can anticipate a great night of sleep. If that sounds impossible to you, contact me for some personal help.

Helping Babies Sleep

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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