Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Our Bedtime Routines (at Home)

Routines are extremely important for babies, because even though they don’t understand time, if they have a set of clear routines, they know what to expect.

Most kids are opposed to sleeping, especially napping, because they are missing out on playtime, on being with mum and dad, on all the fun stuff (doing dishes and laundry, hurray!). That’s why it’s important to make the routines before nap or bedtime as pleasant as you can! That way, they have time to wind-down, relax, enjoy themselves, and get rid of the extra wiggles.

If you have bedtime routines, you probably know that it can be hard to be consistent and stick to them every single day. E. now falls asleep at 19.30 - 19.45, and that means that only one of us can leave the house after that, or we need a babysitter. It’s extremely inconvenient when our friends finish work at 18.00 and want to meet for dinner at 18.30.

But it’s definitely worth having routines! In time, these help your baby develop sleep cues.E. knows that our routines are different for napping and sleeping at night, so although she wakes up at night, she goes right back to sleep.

Most of the books I’ve read about sleep recommend starting the routine 15-60 minutes before bedtime, and 15 min before a nap. Try to have the same order of activities each night, so your baby understands what’s coming next through the predictable pattern.

Our evening routine goes like this:
18.30 She eats dinner (solid food)
18.40 - 19.15 Takes a bath, then we change her diaper, massage her with some cream, put on pajamas, dad says goodnight
19.15 I breastfeed her, sing a song, cuddle her and say goodnight

If she doesn’t seem tired after the bath, we can play quietly before I feed her. But most of the times she falls asleep easily in the evening and shows us she’s tired by rubbing her eyes and by yawning. The evening routine always takes place in her room (where she sleeps), because it helps her feel comfortable there. We have a night lamp with orange light and that is on only after bath time – that way she knows that it’s night – and we pull the curtains at that time, too. Now that it’s summer, light invades her bedroom until

We (my partner and I) take her out before that. We either go out for a picnic (we play on the blanket), or to a park, or just for a walk in the pram/carrier. Then one of us has dinner with her, and the other gives her the bath. Sometimes we do it together, but it can be overstimulating if she’s already a bit tired.

Before a nap, we have a short routine: diaper change, breastfeed, song, cuddle.

These are the routines that suit our family and E.’s appetite. I know some babies eat every 3.5 – 4 hours, but she often prefers shorter and smaller feeding sessions. You can adjust your naptime routine to include other activities, such as reading books, using white noise, singing lullabies, or quiet play. I’ve noticed that E. prefers reading during the day, when she is fully awake and can interact better with the books, can lift the flaps, and turn the pages. Your child might be different, so do what’s best for you and your family.

What other activities would you include? What has worked for you and your baby?

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