How to nail your baby's bedtime routine with sleep expert Becky from Little Dreams

How to nail your baby's bedtime routine with sleep expert Becky from Little Dreams

How to nail your baby's bedtime routine with sleep expert Becky from Little Dreams

The power of a good bedtime routine

When it comes to bedtime and falling asleep, babies and children really thrive with a consistent routine and predictability. Why? Because it helps them feel safe and secure. When your child’s body and brain start to associate things like baths, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas and stories, all done in the same order at the same time every night, it makes it a lot easier for them to fall asleep.
If children don’t have a consistent routine, not only do they feel anxious because they don’t know what’s coming next, they also don’t know where the boundaries are. That, in turn, provokes more anxiety, which prevents them being able to sleep.

It needs to work for you

However old your child or children, the most important thing to remember is that you need to find a bedtime routine that you can stick to and works for your family. Also, don’t make the bedtime routine too long, otherwise your little person could get a second wind and find it harder to settle.
We would usually suggest some quiet downstairs before heading up for a bath. If your little one is getting into their cot or bed around 30 minutes after this, that should work well.  

For those very new babies

You can start introducing a bedtime routine from around eight weeks old. It’s a great way to help your little one organise day and night and start to consolidating night time more quickly. Starting bedtime with a bath is a great first step. It’s such a significantly different experience from anything else in the day that your baby will soon learn that bath means bedtime is near. This could be followed by a little massage, which is great to help babies relax.
The bedtime routine should always include a full feed to ensure your baby’s tummy is full.And a short story or a song is a lovely way to end the bedtime routine and can provide a “buffer” between the feed and being placed into their Moses basket or cot.

Getting a bit older and hitting those developmental milestones

For toddlers, the recommended amount of sleep over one 24-hour period is 11 to 14 hours. Pre-schoolers need 10 to 13 hours.
A good bedtime routine for this age could include a bath, putting pyjamas on and one or two stories. The important thing is to put your little one into bed awake.
And don’t forget that consistency is really key at this age. Toddlers and pre-schoolers thrive on boundaries and if those boundaries move they will be pushed!. It is vital to be consistent, so they know what is, and is not, going to happen, otherwise you are creating a confusing message for your little one.

These tips aren't just for the youngest let's get the whole household on board 

Allow for ‘digital free’ time at least 1 hour, ideally 2, before bed: try swapping it for some quiet games, or hand eye coordination activities like colouring, puzzles or craft. Hand eye co-ordination activities are really good for relaxing the brain at this time of day.
Regular exercise and time outdoors: outside time and physical activity each day is very important. ‘Sunlight’ helps hormones to remind the body it is awake time and fresh air and exercise always aid sleep.
Avoid caffeine and sugary food before bedtime: caffeine and sugar are stimulants, and therefore should be avoided too close to bedtime so that hot chocolate needs to move to another part of the day.
Make it really dark: in order to help the production of melatonin – the ‘sleepy hormone’ – your  bedroom should be as dark as possible.
No distractions: try to ensure that there’s not too much distraction in the bedroom, it should be a calm and relaxing place for your child to be during the night.
Be mindful of the temperature: being too hot/cold can impact the quality of sleep.
This blog post was written by Becky Badger who runs Little Dreams Consulting in Bristol, UK. You can find out more here at

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