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Bedtime routine for babies: how it worked for us

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Bedtime Routine for Babies – how it worked for us – by Fiona Morrison.

My son’s bedtime routine is one of the most sacred things in our household. We are fairly particular about getting him to bed at a certain time. To the point where family and friends know that if we are out and about close to his bedtime, that we will need to leave to get him home ready for bed.

We have had some people consider us pedantic. Others say we are too rigid. However, if it is anything to go by, our son has been consistently sleeping through the night since he was three months old. except for the occasional night of teething or illness.

Bedtime Routine for Babies

The idea of a baby bedtime routine appealed to me from the get-go. I’m someone who loves to be organised! The early months of motherhood threw me into disarray with the haze of breastfeeds and dirty nappies.

But the worst of it all was the sleep deprivation. I have struggled with restless sleep for many years, so what little sleep I normally got was precious. When we had our son, and our sleep was dictated by erratic wakings, I was adamant that our son would develop a solid routine early on to establish good sleeping habits for him (and eventually for us again too!).

Bedtime Routine for Babies – how it worked for us

I read recommended books on sleep routines. I attended a sleep seminar by a sleep consultant. I read blog posts about sleep habits. And yes, I’ll admit I had the occasional Dr. Google question too. I was at the stage where I was pretty much booked in to start sleep training. Then finally, at three months of age, my son slept through the night.

Of course, the next night he woke up a couple of times again. But slowly, slowly, we found he began to consistently sleep through the night. And now that he has just turned one, and we’ve gone on our first family holiday, we found that his bedtime routine pulled through and helped him to sleep through the night for his first few nights away from home too.

I realise that every baby is different. There are a lot of factors playing a role in how well a child will sleep at nighttime. However, I have no doubt in my mind that developing his solid sleeping routine has been crucial to helping him sleep consistently well. So what does our routine look like for our one-year-old son?

Our Baby Bedtime Routine

6pm – Family Dinner Time

6.30 – Bath or Shower Time (he doesn’t necessarily wash each night as this is not recommended for their skin)

6.45 – Breastfeed

7.00 – Bedtime (we put him in his bed awake). He has a white noise machine, dark room, and tucked in with sheets

As our son gets older, we will adapt his routine to remove the breastfeed. We’ll also add a quiet storytime and bottle before bed.

However, we have found this routine – which we have been doing since he started solids – has really helped him to understand when it is bedtime and get him ready to sleep.

Besides this routine, there have been a couple of key elements that also help him to fall (and stay) asleep at nighttime.

White Noise 

The white noise machine we bought plays throughout the night. This is a sleep prop that lets him know that it is time for sleeping. We took it away with us on holidays and found it worked in helping him settle to sleep in an unfamiliar environment. There has been the occasional night it hasn’t been on and he’s still slept well, but overall we keep using it (for day and night sleeps) to help him become familiar and settled for bedtime.

Tucked in Tight 

While using sheets isn’t recommend from an early age (as babies might suffocate if they’re too young to disentangle themselves from sheets), we found that our son likes to feel snug and secure. Swaddling early on didn’t work for him, as he would escape from the swaddle, wake up and cry. We found a swaddle bag worked until he was old enough for a sleeping bag, and then a tight/fitting sleeping bag worked best. We also found tucking him in with sheets helped him to feel snug as well, and this combination has resulted in consistent sleeping through the night.

Understanding the difference between Whinging and Crying 

I know many mums – myself included – are not fans of the “cry it out” method. It is just too heartbreaking, on top of many other things. However, one big thing we found in helping our son learn to settle himself to sleep was understanding the difference between his whinging and crying.

When babies get overtired, they can whinge (not really being upset, just fussing). If this was the case with our son, we’d let him whinge for a little bit before going in to him in his room. The majority of the time, we have found he is asleep within a couple of minutes after he whinges. However, if he is upset and crying when he is put down for sleep, we will go in and comfort him. We’ll give him his dummy and teddy comforter if needed. Once I learnt to distinguish between his whinge and his cry, I found that we didn’t need to go in as much to help him sleep – he learnt to help himself to sleep.

While this may not suit all mothers, for us it has been a big part in him learning to sleep by himself. (I’d like to reiterate that we never leave him when he is upset or distraught).

These are the main contributors to my son’s bedtime routine and consistent sleep for the past eight months.

What tips, tricks, or resources have you found to help your little one sleep consistently through the night?

Fiona blogs at

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