There is no denying that it is Fall. The air is cooler, the leaves are falling and pumpkin spice lattes have arrived. I find Fall feels like a fresh start to me. I have the urge to clean and get things in order before winter arrives. It is also a great time to establish better routines. This post will deliver the best bedtime routine to get your baby sleeping. Because who doesn’t want that?!
Babies and children thrive on routine. They do better when there is a clear order to their day and bedtime. But does a bedtime routine really help them sleep better? YES!
A study that looked at the impact a nightly bedtime routine had on sleep in young children by Mindell et al. (2009) found that babies with a consistent bedtime routine fell asleep quicker and woke up less in the nighttime. The routine was also noted to improve the mother’s mood and decrease parental distress. Pretty fabulous! So, what is this miracle routine?
I love baths and so do my kids. It’s the perfect segue from a messy dinner to bedtime. My 1 year old gets so excited when I run the bath that she peeks in the tub and giggles. But the benefits of a daily bath go far beyond fun and cleanliness, which is why I recommend a bath to all of my clients.
It has been found that babies receive more touch during bath time and after than any other time in their day. Touch is very important to babies and children. It decreases blood pressure, slows the heart rate and helps babies relax. Perfect for getting a baby ready for sleep.
A bedtime bath helps babies fall asleep quicker but it can also help them stay asleep longer. Warm baths before bedtime have been found to decrease body movements in the first 3 hours after falling asleep ( Kanda et al.) This is important for infants and babies who can be active sleepers and whose movements can wake them up.
Not only are baths great for sleep but they are fun and aid in normal development. My girls love to play in the bath. It is a time for exploring, stimulation of many senses, and for additional one on one time with their parents. Because of this, bath time helps babies with their development. Stimulating them with different scents, bubbles, and toys helps them learn about the world around them while having fun!
I try to change up our bath toys routinely so bath time stays fun. We tried out the Yookidoo Submarine Spray Whale this week and my girls both LOVED it. It is rated for ages 2-6 so please follow the age recommendation. (Disclaimer-My 1 year old was never left unattended with the toy, please don’t send me any angry messages).
It was super easy to use and my 4 year old could easily spray the water wherever and at whomever she desired! There is a little submarine with a diver that sprays water and the whale can be hooked up to spray water too. The whale also functions as a pouring funnel and can be pushed around to swim. My 1 year old loved the whale (and the spraying diver when she could pry it from her older sister’s hands!)
The bright colors, easy to use design and multi-sensory stimulation that this toy provided were developmentally appropriate and engaging for both my girls.
I loved this toy and Playwell Enterprises (who distribute the toy in Canada) have generously offered a Submarine Spray Whale for one of you to love as well! If you don’t win one here you can find them at Toys R Us, Mastermind Toys and Chapters/Indigo.
After the fun of the bath it is time for the next step of massage. Don’t worry, you don’t need any special training, literally rubbing lotion on your little one after their bath is enough. As stated above, the use of touch helps babies relax. Bedtime massage has also been shown to naturally increase a baby’s levels of melatonin. After their massage, put your baby in their coziest pj’s and get ready for the next step!
The last step before your little one goes into their crib or bed is a quiet activity. I suggest a story or a quiet song as your chosen activity. In our house, we cuddle up and read two stories. Pick how many stories you are going to read and stick with it, so 2 doesn’t turn into 5. My girls enjoy this quiet time and it is a great way to end our day. After our stories, I kiss my little ladies goodnight and tuck them into their beds.
That’s it! That is the routine that was shown to help children fall asleep quicker, wake less, have increased sleep consolidation and improved mother’s mood! Try it, it may take a few nights before you start to notice the benefits, but it will be worth it!
If you have any questions or need support in anyway, contact me, I would love to help you!
Take Care Mamas!
Robin Forslund, RN, Lactation Counselor