Bedtime routines

A mother reading a baby a bedtime storyNot sure when your baby should be sleeping or waking and your house feel like it’s in chaos? A sleep routine could be just what you need. Mums tell us that setting routines help them organise their day and know when things happen and many find that this helps their children too. Our Baby Sleep Guide contains lots of support on creating routines.  Watch videos on parent’s experiences of routines and what they think here, plus you can come and chat to Maggie, our team of trained parent supporters and other mums in the Channel Mum support group too.

Consistent bedtime

This one is pretty straightforward, establish a bedtime which works for your family, and keep to this same bedtime each night. For older children it helps them to understand that bedtime is coming up and it will also allow your baby or child’s circadian rhythm to naturally help and promote a better nights sleep. Your circadian rhythm is your internal sleep/wake cycle.

Deciding on a bedtime is individual to each family but look out for signs that your child is sleepy and try to avoid letting your child get over tired as this often makes bedtime harder rather than easier.

Bedtime routines

You can start bedtime routines from as young as you like, it provides your baby and child with an expectation of what is happening next and a distinction between day and night. What your bedtime routine consists of is entirely up to you and your family.

A typical bedtime routine could:
• Begin 30 – 40 minutes before you would like your baby or child to go to sleep;
• Be relaxing, calm and quiet with the same things happening every evening at about the same time;
• Not include any screen time for a minimum of 60 minutes before bedtime, screens suppress melatonin production which your body needs for sleep;
• Finish in the bedroom, with no returning to main living areas once it has begun.

Bedtime routines can include things like a bath, massage, putting on pyjamas, warm drink, brushing teeth, books, songs or relaxing music. Don’t include things in the bedtime routine that you are not happy to do every evening.

Watch this video for more information on top tips on getting newborns to sleep.

Health Visitor approved advice

This guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in October 2018.

Factsheets in this series

Safe sleeping for babies

Your baby’s average sleep needs

Sleep and awake states of your baby

What are your baby’s signs of tiredness?

Your baby’s sleep cycles

The effect food can have on your baby’s sleep

Comforting and soothing your baby to sleep

Sleep aids that might help settle your baby

Swaddling your baby

Using the ‘Gradual Retreat’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Controlled Checking’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Kissing Game’ sleep training method

You might be interested in

The Channel Mum sleep guide

Baby development – your baby’s first year

How to sooth a crying baby

Controlled crying

Co-sleeping

Colic