Probably the most difficult part of the newborn phase is sleep – or the lack thereof. Newborn sleep is all over the place. Some babies sleep through the night from birth, and others take much longer to settle into a routine. Some newborns go to bed easily, while others take much longer to settle and drift off. The secret to helping your newborn get a good night’s rest is establishing a solid routine.
As early as 6 to 8 weeks, many babies are able to respond to routines and are able to predict what happens during a usual bedtime. As long as the same schedule is followed consistently, babies are able to identify when it is time to go to sleep. The best thing parents can do to help their little one sleep is to set up a bedtime routine!
Routines are wonderful because they allow your baby to know what to expect, feel safe and secure, develop the ability to self soothe, and relax. When you begin a bedtime routine, it helps trigger the release of sleep hormones in your newborn’s body.
How do you go about setting up a bedtime ritual for your newborn baby? Here are some ideas for bedtime activities you may want to incorporate into your newborn’s sleep routine.
- Massage with baby lotion
Babies love gentle massage. Infant massage allows a baby to relax before bedtime. Some hospitals and clinics offer classes where parents can learn infant massage techniques. Even if you’re not an expert, try getting some baby lotion and gently rub your baby’s feet, legs, arms, chest, and back. Many babies also relax when their heads are massaged. Try gently running your fingers through baby’s hair or lightly stroking baby’s cheeks and nose.
Bath time can be a fun way for baby to begin to wind down after a long, exciting day. Make sure the water is warm (but not too hot). Many companies make soaps that have calming scents such as lavender. Don’t forget to use KeaBabies Wash Cloths, made of ultra-plush bamboo, to gently scrub your baby!
- Rocking in a glider chair or rocking chair
Many parents have a glider chair or rocking chair in the nursery. These chairs are perfect for gently rocking a baby off to sleep. Babies, accustomed to plenty of movement in the womb, are easily soothed with gentle motion. If your newborn is having trouble drifting off to sleep, try bringing them into a dark, quiet nursery, laying them on your shoulder or cradling them in your arms, and gently rocking them until they fall asleep.
- Singing lullabies
Babies love the sound of your voice. A baby’s hearing is highly developed even while in the womb. When they are born, babies often recognize their parents’ voices! Singing to your baby can be a wonderful way to bond with your newborn and help them relax into peaceful sleep. You don’t have to limit yourself to lullabies – sing whatever genre comes to mind, your baby won’t mind!
- Reading stories
A cherished part of many bedtime routines is the bedtime story (or stories). Reading to babies can even lay the foundations for early reading and language skills. Before it is time for bed, choose a few short books and cuddle up in a cozy part of the house with your newborn. Even though babies can’t completely understand the story lines of books, they can appreciate listening to the rhythmic sound of your voice, which soothes them.
- Listening to soft music
Thankfully, in this digital age, it isn’t hard to access music. There are sound machines available online and in stores, but you can also grab a CD player or even YouTube on your mobile device to play soft music for your little one! Try to choose calm, quiet, instrumental music to lull your baby to sleep.
Many babies drift off to sleep as they nurse or drink a bottle. Letting your baby drift off in this way isn’t a problem. Being close to a parent during feeding can be calming for a little baby.
Don’t forget to create a cozy sleep environment for your newborn. Dress them in soft pajamas, keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and don’t forget to wrap them in our wonderfully soft and cozy KeaBabies Swaddle Blanket.
Once you’ve decided which things you’d like to incorporate into your newborn’s sleep routine, write it down somewhere and show it to other caregivers so everyone can be on board!
Creating a standard bedtime ritual can be extremely helpful in getting your newborn to sleep easily! While the results may not show right away, as long as you are consistent, eventually your baby will adjust to the routine and drift off to sleep at bedtime without a problem!
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Parenting is Awesome. Sleep is Overrated. Everyday is an Adventure.