9 Ways To Improve Your Baby’s Bedtime Routine

Getting your baby to sleep in a regular pattern, as a new parent can feel like an almighty task. It’s important to remember that all babies are different - Your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it's unlikely to be the same as other babies you know, so avoid comparing sleep habits!

Despite every baby being different, there are things you can do to try and improve your baby’s sleeping routine (and help you get a better night’s sleep!).

  1. Bath time before bedtime = Get you child used to having a bath before bed, this will relax them and is a calming activity to prepare them for bedtime. If you already include this in your bedtime routine, then it may be useful to ensure that activities after bath time are relaxed.

  2. Be ready at the first sign of sleepiness = You need to read their signs of drowsiness. When your little one is quiet, disinterested in their surroundings, and staring off into space, it’s time to go to bed. 

  3. Get your baby used to night & day = Teaching your baby the difference between night-time & daytime will be hugely beneficial in maintaining a consistent sleep routine. During the day open curtains, play games and don't worry too much about everyday noises. When it's bedtime, create an environment that encourages sleep. Avoiding excitement by playing with your baby before bedtime is a good idea. However, this doesn’t mean keeping the house silent, as it's good to get your baby used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise. But, drowning out things that engage your child’s senses can be beneficial. For example, it’s a good idea to lower the lights at night-time, and it may be useful to install blackout blinds where your baby sleeps as it can resemble a womb-like environment. 

  4. Temperature Type= Being too hot or too cold can also disturb their sleep, it’s usually best to keep the room temperature cooler rather than too warm – to measure what suits your baby it may be beneficial to put a room thermometer where they sleep. 

  5. Swaddling to Sleep = Some parents have tried swaddling; their new-born didn’t like it and so they crossed this off from their list of sleeping technique. But new-borns sleep changes rapidly in those early weeks and what your baby may dislike at 3 days might work at 3 weeks. Swaddling is useful for helping your baby sleep because it can resemble a womb and relax your baby. Swaddling is a tricky skill to master but it improves with practice, so keep trying (as long as your baby is too young to roll over). You can find a range of swaddles here.

  6. The Dream Feed = Babies will wake during the night because they need to be fed. If you're breastfeeding, in the early weeks your baby is likely to doze off for short periods during a feed but carry-on feeding until you think your baby has finished or until they're fully asleep. This will reduce the number of times your baby will wake for food and is a good opportunity to try to get a bit of rest yourself. New-born babies will sleep on and off throughout the day and night. It can be helpful to have a pattern, but you can always change the routine to suit your needs. For example, you could wake your baby for a feed just before you go to bed in the hope, you'll get a long sleep before they wake up again.

  7. Keep Changing to a Minimum = This means don't change your baby unless they need it. It’s a good idea to change your baby into night clothes and a fresh nappy before you put them to bed as it will help reduce the number of times your baby wakes up from discomfort – allowing you to get a few more consecutive hours of sleep. But ensure to put your baby down as soon as they've been fed and changed – and a bonus tip, keep nappies, fresh clothes and clean swaddle near your baby’s cot, so you reduce the amount of time your baby is kept awake. You may also want to keep a nappy disposal system where your child sleeps, to reduce your trips to the bins outside. 

  8. Where your baby sleeps = For the first 6 months your baby should be in the same room as you when they're asleep, both day and night. You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they've just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer. 

  9. Sharing the load = If you are breastfeeding and you have to feed your baby, it’s a good idea for your partner to take care of nappy changes and wake ups so you can get some sleep. 

As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. For example, too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing calm activities, like reading, brushing their teeth, giving a goodnight kiss, singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you've put your baby to bed.

But keep in mind, as your baby grows different things will effect their sleep. For example, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps. If you are concerned about your baby's sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your GP.