Bedtime Routines for Baby
Feature Fact Friday!
As an adult, we like to know what to expect and when to expect it. We have calendars, timers, lists, and many other items to help us stay organized and on time. We also like our routines - a favorite TV show in the middle of the week, church on Sunday, fitness class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, coffee in the morning (every morning). These routines help us stay on track and remain calm when other plans go awry.
We didn't just start these routines as adults. You have probably developed routines from the time you were very young. Think about children in pre-school and elementary school. There is a fairly specific schedule - circle time, math centers, movement break, snack, reading centers, art, lunch, recess, etc. This most definitely calms children, especially when they are having a rough day and are too little to understand the concept of time and clocks ("It's art, so just lunch and recess and then it will be time to go home and see mom"). Babies' minds kind of work in the same way.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends on average 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours for a 4-12 month old infant. Wow! If they are sleeping that much, why are we so tired, right? Unfortunately, this is with many awake times in between :-) Given that sleep is such an important part of a baby's life, you are going to want to establish a good bedtime routine early on.
Babies, like adults, need at least 15-30 minutes to unwind before closing their eyes for the night. A warm bath sets the mood very nicely. You can also incorporate some play in the bathtub with the nesting cups. Have baby fill them with water and then turn them over to dump it out. Bath time is also an excellent opportunity to work on body part vocabulary ("now I'm going to wash your arm and fingers").
Once you have finished the bath, and baby is dressed, you can then bring them into their room and read one or two books. Goodnight Moon can be found in the Our First Year backpack and contains lots of useful around-the-house vocabulary. Some other popular bedtime books include I Love You Stinky Face, Pajama Time, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Where the Wild Things Are. As your baby gets older, don't be surprised if they request the same book each night. That goes along with knowing their routine and making predictions about what comes next in their nightly schedule.
A short lullaby, a sweet kiss on the cheek, and a prayer to Mr. Sandman is the perfect ending to your baby's bedtime ritual. Remember, baby may initially have some difficulty adjusting to the new schedule, but remain consistent and perhaps you will even get a little more sleep at night.
Sweet dreams from the OFY team...it's all in the bag!