Why Your Baby’s Bedtime Routine is so Important

We all love a routine. The comfort of knowing what’s coming and what you need to do is unrivalled, helping you rid of your stress and anxiety. Without one, you can feel like you’re reaching in the dark, floundering trying to remember what you need to get done and unsure of when you should or can do it. With a new baby, you probably feel like that most days, living on your baby’s schedule or complete lack thereof, but creating a bedtime routine that’s calming for you and your little one can go a long way to making you feel a little more in control. 

Mixing the science of your baby’s development with the logic of self-care that you probably understand much more, night-time routines are proven beneficial for both the here and now of improving sleep, and long-term behavioural development. So let’s get a little cosy, here are our top reasons why a nighttime routine is so important for both parent and baby.

Adan + Anais

Photo from Aden + Anais

It creates a sense of security

For your little one, each day is a lot! The world is full of things to learn, bright colours, loud noises and excitement, no wonder they need so much sleep to recover from it all. This is especially the case around the five-month mark. Around this time, your baby will be going through a phase called object permanence, which in short is basically when they realise they and the world around them exists and interacts. They become aware of their surroundings and their role within it, which unsurprisingly can leave them feeling out of control and overwhelmed. So by having a regular, routined night-time your baby can feel a greater sense of security and safety, knowing that they will always have their bath and a cuddle at the end of a big day of discovery. 

Over time, this can also cause sequencing where your baby will begin to recognise that one thing always follows another, so milk will always follow a bath, coming right before sleep. Recognising their routine and becoming aware of what is happening gives them a greater sense of control as if they’re involved and in the know, in contrast to the confusion of the rest of the day. To help them feel extra secure, trying swaddling or carrying them in a sling for half an hour for a big dose of bonding and comfort before beginning your nightly routine.

nighttime routine

Photo from Dr Browns

It signals a difference between naptime and bedtime

As well as giving them a greater sense of control, sequencing can create a difference between naptime and bedtime. Following a sequenced night-time routine and putting your baby down for bedtime before they’re asleep can help create a difference between naptime and bedtime that they’ll start to recognise, promoting deeper, longer sleep at night. Dimming the lights, having a bath, changing them into pyjamas, and talking gently to your baby while you feed them will all become things that signal night-time to them, becoming cues to rest their sleepy eyes for a night’s sleep. 

For a clearer signal, trying introducing a toy, light or sound that is only used at night. Keep a particular teddy separate as a sleepy time bear, or get a twinkly star night light that will become associated with settling down and going to bed. Having things that are particular to night-time will help enforce the routine regardless of the time or light outside, helping your baby recognise bedtime, sleep deeper and, eventually, wake up less.

It is great for bonding

The routine doesn’t have to be rigid and clinical. Your night-time routine can be a really great time to bond with your baby and become a sacred time to spend together with no distractions or other obligations. Knowing you have that time scheduled in to wind down and relax with your little one means it can become a calming, nurturing experience for you too. Dimming the lights and talking or singing quietly while you feed will be a welcome calm after a day of fitting in feeds during other tasks, so really enjoy the time with your baby. Get cosy and switch off from everything but move through the routine. 

For a little extra bonding, why not try a baby massage. This is a really great way of calming your little one down before putting them down, helping to stabilise and slow their heart rate through comforting touch. It’s not hard and requires no masseuse training, simply stroking your baby or gently rubbing their back would do the trick as long as it’s rhythmical. Take cues from your baby’s reactions and take some time bonding through gentle touch and a nighttime sing-song.

You could even incorporate some essential oils like lavender or chamomile that are proven to aid relaxation and sleep, as these will start to serve as another sleep trigger for your little one, associated with bedtime. Spending some quality time in a calm atmosphere will do both parent and baby a world of good, getting you both ready for a good nights sleep.  

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It can help with behaviour later in life

Not just for the here and now, getting your baby into a night-time routine can also be helpful for later in life, from being a toddler to a fully-fledged adult. Initially, routines are proven to help with behaviour as it helps children feel in control and in the know about what’s happening, knowing they have a reliable routine to fall back on. But it also can help with socialisation, gently introducing them to the concept of rules and organisation.

Getting into a routine early can help later down the line, making them more comfortable with living a structured life when it comes to starting nursery and school. So hopefully by getting them into a routine now, they’ll follow your rules and be home for curfew as they’re nearing the terrible teens. 


It is good for parents too

Just as the routine is comforting for your baby, it can be for you as well. As a parent, you know that kids are unpredictable and you can never know exactly how your day will go. But with a bedtime routine, you can have a period of control and relax into the knowledge that you know what you’re doing. It can be hard to know if you’re ever doing anything right as a new parent. So something as simple as getting your little one washed and fed each night ready for bed, is an achievement to help you end the day feeling more confident in your new role. 

But also, the main aim of all of this is to make more time for you. The more your baby settles into a routine and starts living a more scheduled life, the more time you’ll have to relax and do things that make you feel like you and not just a parent. By following a routine, you’ll start to see pockets of time where you can find in some self-care or even some hard-core productivity if that’s what needs doing.

Even if its just 10 minutes before you know they’ll stir again, knowing you have that time can be heaven-sent. And before you know it, your baby will fall comfortable into a routine and be able to be put down for a full nights sleep, leaving you a whole night to just be you and wind down yourself. You deserve it!



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2022-04-24 12:48:20By Sarah Atkinson

Written by Lucy Harbron

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert