Tips for New Moms: The Beauty of the Bedtime Routine

[ 2 ] December 16, 2009 |

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. iStock_000005506641XSmallIn 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:
1. bath
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.  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. I believe the routine and consistency of the bedtime ritual aided my daughter in eventually being able to put herself to sleep. 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. 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).  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.  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.

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Category: baby, preschool


about the author ()

Kristen Kardos, MA Ed., and Kathy McGuigan, MSW: New Moms. Kristen Kardos and Kathy McGuigan, co-founders of Rhode Island New Moms Connection (affordable, accessible pregnancy and new mom groups throughout RI), value building community and developing support networks for new moms in addition to mothering their own joyful children. They share their knowledge, resources, and helpful tips for moms just beginning their journey into parenthood or moms that may need a little refresher.

Comments (2)

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  1. It took me way too long to figure this out. Luckily by the time baby 3 came along we had a bedtime routine for the other two and he fit right into it. Consistency has been the hardest thing for me as a parent, but the pay off has been huge and it is helping me with other areas of my life. Thanks for the article!

  2. Anisa Raoof Anisa says:

    I learned early on that creating a bedtime routine for my twins was good for them to learn to sleep and for me to get a needed break. Although it did not always work at the beginning or on some occasions but repeating our routine worked well.

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