routine for your baby
is unmissable. Fun and easy to
do, the recognizable sleep routine effectively
winding down, self-soothing and sleeping through the
A bedtime routine or ritual is a set of actions and words
you do with and say to your child at each bedtime.
baby learns to
associate these with settling and that is enough for their body to get
(see below) are
simple and recognizable, calm and pleasant, and you're
consistent with it.
You can start this from the first weeks with your
newborn baby and you'll continue to do it to help your toddler sleep well.
baby's bedtime routine will evolve as they grow.
Easy settling with a routine is just as
valuable for growing up kids and adults.
one of the many things we know from sleep research. The anecdote in the box on this page says it all.
example of a before-bed routine
One simple example, your
down bedtime ritual
announcing bed time
bathroom to change nappies, softly talking about the nice sleep coming
extra hug for the sleepy baby
past and showing a picture on the wall
saying goodnight to a
putting down and then "good night, sleep tight"
This is just one, typical, bedtime routine but it
can be any set of similar quiet things you and your little one like to
A mathematician's bedtime routine
An interesting story about
David Hilbert, a professor of mathematics at the University of
One night [...] there was a party to be
held at Hilbert's house. Just as the first guests were arriving,
Hilbert's wife noticed that her husband's shirt was soiled; she quickly
sent him off to put on a clean one. In response to her request, Hilbert
After 20 minutes or more had passed,
he still had not returned. The guests were milling about waiting for
him. Somewhat concerned, Mrs. Hilbert went up to the bedroom. There she
found the great mathematician peacefully tucked into his bed, fast
"You see", explained his friend, "it
was a natural sequence of things. He took off his coat, then his tie,
then his shirt, and so on, and went to sleep.". Most of us are not so
susceptible to the cues that signal our bedtime, but
become conditioned to the natural sequence of our own routine and it
does assist us in falling asleep
by S. Coren - ISBN 0684823047
A good bedtime routine is ...
Since your little one must recognize the pattern, it
must naturally be the same each time. Hmm, I even sang exactly the same
lullaby for almost a year (because it worked ... so why change a
winning team ;))
You can of course vary with different lullaby
songs, as long as
the routine is recognizable to your baby.
long, not too short
Too short and your baby won't easily
recognize the pattern.
Too long and getting baby to bed becomes a chore.
pleasant for baby and for you
Make the bedtime routine a quiet moment you
can both enjoy.
Hugging and holding your baby close, talking and singing
softly, etc. It helps you both wind down and relax and leaves your baby
relaxed and ready for sleep.
you, without hesitating
Also here, be determined. You'll want
ending to the routine
, don't let your child stretch it. As
your baby grows
into toddlerhood, they'll love to try and extend this pleasant
time. Saying goodnight to another toy. And another one. Asking for a
second song, another book, etc.
If you go along in this, it becomes more
difficult to end the routine and start them sleeping. Avoid giving choices as well, like choosing the lullaby. It can take a looooong time
before you agree on a song.
Any thing your toddler asks about, simply tell them
"yes, we'll do that later on/tomorrow", and finish the routine as usual. Still fun, but no distractions.
Of course also here you can experiment, and by
flexibility if your baby still settles well
A bedtime routine is
best start of any nap and night
recognizable cues help your baby, also physically, get ready for sleep - this is how sleep works.
There's never any magic of course, and having a
routine is not a guarantee that your baby will sleep. But it is one of
the crucial must-haves toward the best sleep they can have right now.
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.
Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.
Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.
She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.