The importance of a bedtime routine

By Kate Macdonald

December 21, 2018

How important is a bedtime routine? VERY! Bedtime is the golden ticket to a great sleep! Establishing a regular bedtime routine will not only help your little one anticipate that it is bedtime but will help improve your child’s sleep and can help decrease the number of times they are up at night.

As parents, sleep can be our biggest challenge! We know our children need it, but it can be so difficult to get your child to sleep. Sometimes it’s an even bigger issue to keep them asleep!  Studies have shown that creating a bedtime routine is an easy change that can significantly improve both the child’s sleep and a mother’s quality of life. Results indicate that the establishment of a nightly bedtime routine produced significant reduction in problematic sleep behaviours for infants and toddlers. Improvements were seen in the onset of sleep and a decrease in number and duration of night wakings.

What is Melatonin and How does it help sleep?

Melatonin is a hormone that our body produces also known as the sleep hormone. It helps our body know when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake. Your body makes more melatonin at night. Levels start to rise in the evening which causes us to feel tired and stay elevated for most of the night then start to drop in the morning with causes you to wake. Your internal clock or your circadian rhythm influences how much melatonin your body makes as well as how much light you are exposed to during the day.  Going to bed and waking up at a consistent time each day will help regulate your child’s circadian rhythm.


BEDTIME

Bedtime is naturally later for newborns as they don’t have the melatonin levels in the early evening that older babies have. Newborns bedtime is around 9-11pm and as the baby gets older and their melatonin levels starts to become more regulated and their bedtime moves up earlier in the evening to around 7:30-8:30pm around 6 months.

A bedtime routine should be consistent every night. Well almost every night- there are going to be times that you are out for an event or celebrating a holiday and their bedtime routine will have to be modified.

Here is an example of a infants bedtime routine:

  1. Bath
  2. Put pajamas on
  3. Story
  4. Feed
  5. Crib

A bath is a great thing to add into their routine as it is the only thing different in a newborn’s day and night. IF you are concerned about your baby’s skin becoming too dry, you do not have to use soap or you can just use a nice warm washcloth to wash their face and hands.


Infant massage is a great tool that you can also add to your bedtime routine. It has been proven to help in the production of melatonin. Studies have shown that infants who are massaged cried less, slept better, had lower stress hormones(cortisol) and affected the release of melatonin.

The bedtime routine shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. The reason for this is you don’t want your baby to become overtired.  An overtired baby will fuss more for you and take longer to go to bed.

Timing is KEY!!!!  Keep a close eye on your babies sleep cues and finding your babies sleep sweet spot will make bedtime go smoother!!!! An under tired child will not have enough sleep pressure built and that will bring a lot of crying. In an overtired child there is so much sleep pressure that their little bodies compensate and stay in a light sleep which makes falling asleep and staying asleep a huge struggle. As you child grows older you will have to adjust the timing of their naps and bedtime as their awake times will increase.

Bedtime is often one of our favorite times a day as a parent!!! We look forward to getting some time to ourselves before our little one needs us again.  Establishing a bedtime routine is your golden ticket to better sleep for both you and your little one!! Who doesn’t want more sleep???

If you are struggling with sleep, please reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. We would be happy to come and do a full assessment on your child.  We look extensively at feeding, development, weight gain and your child’s circadian rhythm to determine the best way to find sleep. 

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