Baby's First Year · Parenting

Is there a “Perfect” bedtime routine for babies?

Parent is standing and is smiling while holding sleeping baby.

There is no perfect bedtime routine.  The truth is our little bundles of joy were designed to get up and nourish those little developing brains.  Night waking is normal and actually very healthy for newborns!  Just this week, a client of the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program asked me why they can’t get their child to sleep.  I hear this all the time as a home visiting nurse.  Let me tell you, it’s not you, it’s them!

5 Truths about newborn sleep:

  1. Get as much help as you can.
    If someone you trust says “let me know if I can help”, say “yes, can you come hold my baby while I nap today?” If you find you are unable to find any supports for you and your baby, connect with Toronto Public Health 
  2. Some babies fall asleep more easily than others. Try not to compare.
  3. It will take time to develop a good sleep pattern.
    Your baby has been used to the constant rocking of your body, the soothing sounds of your heartbeat and the warmth of your womb all of these months to get to sleep.
  4. Your baby’s sleep is different from your sleep.
    Simply put, baby’s night sleep is divided into sleep cycles and baby travels from light sleep (may squirm, smile, frown or make noises) to deep sleep (minimal muscle movement & tone, regular breathing & quiet) and back again without fully awakening. Your baby is just learning this skill. For the first few months your baby is counting on you to help them transition into the next cycle. If you are having difficulty placing your baby into the crib and having them stay asleep, hold baby until you notice they have transitioned into deep sleep and then place them down safely on their back in the crib.
  5. Your baby’s sleep is not a measure of your ability to be a parent!

Remember:  It’s important to create a safe sleep environment for your baby

Setting a bedtime routine helps because your baby learns to associate your predictable pattern with going to sleep.

Here’s some ingredients to help build your own bedtime routine for your baby:

  • Prepare yourself with some calming breaths for the bedtime routine
  • Tell your baby that you are getting ready for bed
  • Give baby a bath
  • Massage your baby
  • Dim the lights
  • Breastfeeding baby
  • Read a soothing story
  • Sing a lullaby
  • Rock in a chair
  • Place drowsy baby in the crib*
  • Speak in a soothing voice
  • Let your partner or support person try the routine

Share what works for you and your baby by commenting below!

If you would like to discuss your baby’s safe sleep environment or sleep routines, connect with a nurse via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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