Keep the "Bedtime B's" in mind! I came across this idea recently, and thought it was a great tool to help plan your bedtime routine.
From my experience, I have two main suggestions to keep in mind:
1. Start your bedtime routine from day 1. Babies learn routines very quickly, and it is a great tool to use to convey your message of "It's bedtime!".
2. Keep the routine short and simple. When it is bedtime, it's bedtime. A quick routine enables this to happen. You don't want to spend your entire evening prepping for bedtime, so start with the quick routine early in baby's life!
Choose what works best for your family, and be consistent. It is also okay if your routine changes slightly as your baby gets older. Check out what we have done with our bedtime routine by clicking here!
Bath- A bath is a great tool to calm a fussy little one. Therefore, it can be a great addition to your nightly routine. I wanted bedtime to be as efficient as possible, so I chose not to incorporate bath into our bedtime routine, however. Again, do what works best for your family. We sometimes bathe Caroline at night, and sometimes bathe her in the morning. We do not bathe her every day, as we don't want her skin to dry out.
Boob/Bottle- Feeding your baby before bed is always a great way to soothe and comfort her. It also makes sure that she is nice and full and ready to sleep (instead of waking in an hour hungry as can be). In the early months you will most likely have this last on your list and baby may even fall asleep while eating. Try to rouse your baby slightly so that she is aware of the fact that you are putting her in the crib. You don't want her to be startled when she wakes. Make sure you get a full feeding as well. As your baby gets older, increase the amount of time between feeding and sleeping (to 30 minutes) so that she doesn't form a sleep association with feeding. This will help tremendously when she wakes in the middle of the night. If you break the association early, she won't need to be fed in order to go back to sleep (unless she's hungry, of course).
Book- Reading is a great thing to incorporate before bedtime. This is a great habit to form early with your little ones. If it seems to excite them too much, however, you can choose to do this either early in the bedtime routine or at some other time during the day. Make sure you are reading your little one's cues.
Bed- This is the goal! Getting a good night's rest is essential for baby, and for Mama and Daddy!
If you are thinking about doing any form of sleep training, check out our sleep training page and frequently asked questions page as well for more tips and tricks.