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.
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. The fact is, if you are up a lot at night then you actually *are* losing your mind.
One definite way to help your babies get in the mood for sleep is to have a consistent bedtime wind-down routine. This means you can’t take them from a living room full of the other screaming family members and just put them in a dark room ready to sleep in 2 minutes. Just as you wouldn’t be able to sleep with such a quick transition, neither can they.
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.
The “basics” behind a wind down routine
More research comes out every year showcasing the importance of “brain training.” In a nutshell, what we do over and over again becomes second nature to our brains. They go on autopilot. The same happens with our children except we are the ones who help to train their brains, so to speak. If you want your baby to wind down well to help promote healthy sleep, there are certain behaviors that will help do this.
Turning the lights lower in the evening, whether by lighting a candle or turning on a lamp instead of the ceiling light, can help signal to the brain it’s time to produce melatonin. This is the drowsy hormone and helps calm the body down in anticipation of sleep.
I realize this can seem like a pipe dream if there are young children in the house. But, even for a baby, quiet will help calm the mind. Avoid loud music, TV, or activities that stimulate. You may need to do a calm down trick to help everyone in the house simmer down, but it’s worth it.
Avoid having anything too mentally active or stimulating in the wind down routine. You wouldn’t want to do a puzzle or any type of activity that requires concentration. However, reading a book is a perfect wind down routine element because it’s easy focus. Particularly for babies and children. They can look and listen but don’t have to do anything “active” yet the activity itself is calming.
Studies have shown that some scents (lavender for example) actually serve to decrease the activity of the nervous system, helping lull you into a sleep ready state. Diffuse essential oils, light a lavender scented candle, or put lotion on baby to help ease particularly difficult sleepers into a calmer state.
Printable routine cards to help you remember your routine
Examples of wind-down routine
There are many ways to help your baby wind down. While some will undoubtedly work better than others, you can choose what works best for your family.
- A warm bath or shower
- Applying lotion, powder, or cream
- Baby massage
- Turning the lights down low or lighting candles
- 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 (this works wonders)
- Sitting or lying together
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.
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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