Written by Yvonne Kanyi for MumsVillage
Babies seem to live in a world of their own and sometimes you can feel so lost and confused about how to go about certain things such as bedtime. Establishing a routine will help ease the stress on your part and make life easy for both you and your baby.
Routines are important for babies as research indicates it affects what you child’s behavior could be as they grow up. It also establishes a safe and comfortable environment. Your baby knows what to expect and so do you. It would be lovely if you could start a routine from day 1 but that’s not entirely possible. The first 2-3 months your baby’s behaviors and patterns will be unpredictable. But once they are about 2-4 months old you can set about establishing a routine. Feeding and sleeping patterns begin to be evident at about 3-4 months. Keep in mind that not all the babies are the same therefore some will have consistent patterns earlier than others.
If you have decided to start establishing routines you can begin by logging your baby’s patterns. When does she/he wake up? When does she/she fall asleep at night? When does he/she take naps? When does he/she seem to enjoy baths? You could use a pen and paper or a spreadsheet or even apps. There are a number of apps available for jotting down this information.
Here are some ways to establish routines around different times:
Use your baby’s cues to tell when they tend to fall asleep and begin activities to help your baby wind down. Begin about 30 min before they normally fall asleep depending on what you want to do before bedtime of course. For most babies a bath before bedtime serves as a soothing and calming effect.
Pick about 3-4 activities that you will be doing every night before bedtime. Make sure you do it every day at the same time. This will establish signals that your baby will learn to follow. Some activities you could do are:
- Changing into pajamas
- Sing lullabies
- Read a book
- Give your baby a massage
- Feeding (whether breast or bottle)
- Say a prayer
- Have a bath
Activities that involve your voice will have your baby learn to take comfort in your voice. When you see your baby start to get drowsy, put them down then so they can learn to fall asleep on their own. This is an important skill to let them have as it will save you some stress and hair pulling. Your baby will learn to put themselves to sleep without being held so you can just put them down when you’re cooking and they can sleep or when they wake up at night they can put themselves back to sleep.
It may be difficult at first because the minute you lay them down they may wake up don’t give up they will get used to it. Use dim lights and low activity during this time.
A routine may be more useful for you then the baby considering how stressful bath time can be. If you decide to do it before bedtime then limit activity, dim lights and use a lower voice. This will let them know bedtime is around the corner. Preparation is key, therefore have all the tools/equipment that you may need (baby tub, towels, Johnson’s Head to Toe Wash, Johnson’s Baby Oil, washcloth, clothes to change into, diaper)
- Have the tub ready and pour in the water.
- Put the washcloth in the water and pour some Johnson’s soap on it.
- Put your baby in and wash her/him.
- Place your baby in the towel and swaddle them. If it’s evening you can rock them to calm them.
- Use some Johnson’s Baby Oil to massage your baby and to relax their muscles.
- Dress your baby.
Once you have a bedtime routine in place then nap-time will be easy peasy. You will be aware of when your baby is likely to take a nap from your logs. Babies tend to do one of two things when it comes to napping, sleep every two hours regardless of the time or sleep at the same time every day. Learn which camp your baby falls into and adapt to that. Just like bed-time dim lights and use low tones. You could sing a lullaby or read a song. Keep it short and simple.
For most babies the first 6 months involves an exclusive breastfeeding diet Therefore you feed your baby on demand but when it falls near mealtime for the family do it near the table or at it whichever you are comfortable with. After they are done put them in a high chair and give them a spoon (a rubber baby one would be best) to play…