My husband and I are firm believers in the power of the bedtime routine. It all began when our first child was about 6 weeks old. During one of my daughter’s evening fussy times (commonly called the “witching hours”), we discovered that a warm bath soothed her and was about the only thing that would settle her down. In the weeks that followed, we began experimenting with different ways to put our daughter to sleep for the night and, of course, the bath was an integral step in the process each evening. By my daughter’s eighth week of life, we had a consistent process that seemed to be working, and thus, the bedtime routine was born.
Our bedtime routine consisted of four steps:
2. infant massage by Papa and dressing
3. feeding while rocking in glider with soothing music playing quietly in the background (same CD every night)
4. transfer sleeping baby to crib
One of us performed these steps in the same order every night for months as consistency is the key to a successful bedtime routine.Â Babies as young as two months old can pick up on cues and eventually anticipate what is coming next . . . bedtime.
When my daughter was about 12 months, old we began reading a book to her before her feeding, and by this time she no longer needed to be rocked to sleep and could be placed in the crib fully awake and would put herself to sleep.Â I believe the routine and consistency of the bedtime ritual aided my daughter in eventually being able to put herself to sleep.Â At about 15 months old, the reading of the book took the place of the feeding, and the routine now included a bath, getting dressed, reading a book and “chatting” about our day.Â My daughter is now almost 4 years old, and the routine continues just as it did when she was 15 months old, only we lie next to her in her “big girl bed” during the story (and the bath is shared with her little brother).Â By the way, we started the bedtime routine with our son when he was only 4 weeks old and it has worked like a charm!
The bedtime battle has never been an issue in our house (I’m knocking lots of wood as I write this), and I really believe a lot of it has to do with the consistency of our routine.Â If only we could figure out a way to make this work when they are teenagers!
Kristen Kardos, MA Ed., and Kathy McGuigan, MSW, the co-founders of RI New Moms Connection, provide affordable, accessible pregnancy and new moms’ groups throughout Rhode Island. In “Tips for New Moms,” they share their knowledge, resources, and helpful ideas for moms just beginning their journey into parenthood or moms who may need a little refresher.
Editor’s Note: Although “Tips for New Moms” is written with the new mom in mind–to support women in their journey through motherhood–it is certainly not the authors’ intention to exclude dads. Every new parent will find their tips, resources, and insights helpful. I invite all moms and dads to share ideas on how they manage their new role as a parent with Kidoinfo in the comments below.