Inside you’ll find wind down routines guaranteed to help baby sleep. Baby sleep struggles are one of the major reasons people land on my blog.
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.
A good rule of thumb?
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.
Nap Times Cheat Sheet
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
The 5 “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.
If you’re trying to get a handle on this from the get go, I’d recommend using our daily baby logs and mom logs to get it all out of your head and onto paper.
1. They go on autopilot
Natural conditioning helps develop healthy sleeping habits. 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.
2. Low low lights
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. This is really helpful for babies who have witching hours.
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.
4. Easy Focus
Avoid having anything too mentally active or stimulating in the wind down routine. For example, 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. This is particularly true for babies and children.
They can look and listen but don’t have to do anything “active”. Listening can be an activity that is calming.
- How To Read To Kids Who Won’t Sit Still
- The Best Christian Children’s Books
- How To Increase Small Children’s Reading Stamina
5. Soothing environment
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.
Here are some ways to help create a soothing environment:
- Diffuse essential oils
- Turn on white noise
- Close the light blocking curtains so the room is dim
Baby Sleep Cards & Checklists
These lovely cards and checklists will help you create and keep healthy wind down and sleep routines for your little ones.Learn More
Examples of what to include in your 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
- Giving baby a pacifier (this is the best there is)
- 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
Sample wind down routines
First of all, it’s very important to note that establishing and following a sleeping schedule is essential for mastering any wind down routine.
For example, if baby is too fussy because he has been awake too long… trying a wind down routine may prove to be more difficult. It’s best to start a wind down routine as part of a healthy sleep schedule.
I had very similar, but slightly different routines with my two oldest children… here they are as examples:
- My oldest child- I started the routine by giving the pacifier (this signaled sleepy). Then, I would read one or two short stores and rocked in the rocking chair. I would always be sure to dim the lights. I would end with by signing a song and giving lots of gentle kisses.
- My second oldest child– He loved massages… so I started with some lavender lotion and a little rub on his arms and legs. He didn’t care for the pacifier so I didn’t stress about that. He also got to listen to a few short books and then we would lie together for a few minutes.
Whatever you choose to include in your wind down routine, your child is sure to learn to recognize them and ease his or her way into peaceful sleep. Try a few from the list above and when you find something that works… stick to it.
Remember… routine and consistency are key.
You got this, momma!
28 Things To Do If Baby Won’t Sleep CHECKLIST
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
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.
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.
Sleep Little Lamb
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More