Baby sleep struggles are one of the major reasons people land on my blog. If baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Here are some wind-down routines and habits that will help teach your baby to embrace – not fight – sleep. I partnered with Johnson & Johnson for this post, but all opinions and experiences on sleep are my own.
Oh… and here’s my Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule Guide: Week by Week if you need it.
Babies need sleep.
Mamas need sleep.
But sleep, unfortunately, isn’t always easy to be had.
The good news is this: everyone was born to have regenerative sleep!
I talk a lot about how important it is our little ones are sleeping well and this becomes exponentially important the more children you have because – quite simply – you can’t stay up all night every night with 3 little bundles of joy.
One definite way to help your babies get in the mood for sleep is to have a consistent bedtime wind-down routine.
What’s a wind-down routine?
A wind-down is something that:
- Helps signal bedtime is coming;
- Is consistent;
- Calms the baby;
- Gives opportunity for physical touch and togetherness; and
- Helps the baby become drowsy, but not fully asleep.
Examples of wind-down routine
There are many ways to help your baby wind down. While some will undoubtedly work better than others (see below for one tested by research that helps babies sleep 80% better), you can choose what works best for your family.
- A warm bath or shower
- Applying lotion or powder
- Baby massage
- Singing or listening to calming music
- Reading books (here’s how to read to little ones who won’t sit still)
- Snuggle time with mom and dad
- Rocking until drowsy
- white noise (a HUGE one if Baby has other siblings)
If you need a visual reminder to help keep the bedtime and wind down routines, these printable routine cards will help.
While there are many more, you don’t want to spend 3 hours on a bedtime routine. The goal is to help the baby get drowsy and then put them in their crib while still slightly awake. A great wind-down routine actually can be the difference between a baby who fights sleep all night and one who sleeps peacefully.
A wind-down method proven by research
Johnson’s – being that they’re in the baby business – has done a ton of research on ways to calm and soothe a baby to sleep better. Not only do they sell calming products, they’ve created a BEDTIME® Baby Sleep App to help parents track their little one’s sleep and chart improvements. As part of this, they’ve issued a 7-day sleep challenge for mothers who need to get their little one’s routine on track.
28 Things To Try If Your Baby Can’t Sleep
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The Wind-Down Method Has the Following 3 Steps
Step 1: Bath
Step 1 of the wind-down process is bathtime. Aside from getting the day’s dirt and grime washed off the baby, it’s a nice time for your child to calmly play and soak in warm water. There is something calming about warm water – for both babies and adults – and unless you have four babies in the bath at once all splashing and screaming (which, ahem, we usually do) bathtime is also very peaceful.
Step 2: Massage
This was my favorite part of Johnson’s 3-step routine during the challenge. Months ago when my son’s eczema was out of control we regularly gave him massages with his creams and lotions before bed. Since it’s gotten better we had left it slip from the routine many nights. The baby loved it and giggled and it was a nice time together. When I was reading articles about why cuddling benefits children’s brains I found the research unanimous that babies calm, attach, and connect with you through physical touch. Pre-bedtime massages are the way to go.
Step 3: Quiet Time
This is, in my opinion, arguably the most important. One of the major factors that contribute to baby sleep struggles is overstimulation and overtiredness. When babies are wide awake, hyper alert, and fidgety it’s a sign they are too wound up to sleep properly. You can’t just throw a wide awake baby in a crib with a kiss and expect him to snooze all night.
This is the point in the bedtime routine where you might nurse, give the baby a bottle, read a book, sing, play or listen to a lullaby. Johnson created their own sweet lullaby here. This is also where I turn on the white noise. For us, white noise is 100% non-negotiable. We have white noise apps on our phones and tablets, and where we have more need for white noise than we have screens, we use old radios.
The fact of the matter is…
Babies go to sleep better and sleep longer when they are calm, settled, and in a good routine. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing with church bells and four part harmony, but the more you are able to protect your baby’s sleep, create a good wind-down routine, and make it a regular part of your evening, the better your whole family will sleep.
To recap, to help your babies sleep better at night you want to:
- Prevent them from getting overtired
- Choose an appropriate bedtime
- Give your baby a calming bath or wipe down
- Before putting on a clean diaper and swaddle, give your baby a rubdown or massage with nice calming lotions
- Have some quiet quality time to help get your baby very drowsy before putting him into the crib.
Hope these help you and your little one get some good sleep tonight!
I’ve created a free email series just for you! There are truly only a few reasons why babies and toddlers have struggles sleeping… really, I mean it. I am going to teach you the main 3 reasons and how to start making small changes to help your baby go from:
- fighting sleep to embracing it
- night wakings to sleeping through
- needing you to jump through hoops to going to sleep on their own
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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