Sweet Dreams: Beginning Your Bedtime Ritual

sleeping mom and baby

Do newborns need a bedtime ritual? “Need” may be a strong word, as your newborn will be awake and sleeping at all different times of the day and night. However, establishing a bedtime ritual at the very start will set up good habits for you and will be a wonderful opportunity for bonding with your baby.

Choosing a set time will help you determine when to begin the ritual. If your baby is two months old or younger, this is really just a goal and can have a wide range on either side.

Decide what you want to include in your ritual. Here are a few options (pick a few or all or think of your own): bath, story, lullaby, swaddle, snuggling, rocking, pajama time, fresh diaper, infant massage, bedtime snack, or a meal. Choose activities that are fairly low-key. Something stimulating will not help you settle your little one down.

When picking your bedtime rituals, note that it is strongly recommended that you include reading aloud to your baby from day one, according to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

{ MORE: 6 Tips for a Better Family Bedtime Routine }

Researchers say that reading aloud to your newborn teaches them about communication, builds listening skills, enhances memory, and more. Also, remember to pick bedtime rituals that you enjoy too so that bedtime is soothing and enjoyable for everyone.

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Sweet Dreams: Beginning Your Bedtime Ritual

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33 comments

  1. Profile photo of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    When she was new born she loves rocking on my arms with gentle lullabies on the background. She loves it until now but we are trying to teach her to sleep on her own at night.

  2. Profile photo of gfeld gfeld says:

    Hard to start with other kiddies around, but gotta start sometime!!

  3. routines are so hard to start!

  4. Profile photo of denette87 denette87 says:

    I started a bed time routine. It amazes me how much my daughter realizes what is happening.

  5. Profile photo of katherine katherine says:

    Im a teen mom with a baby boy of 3 months n i have just started doing some of these routines it really helps!

  6. Profile photo of sheenaholman sheenaholman says:

    I need to start a routine…

  7. Profile photo of Sara Sara says:

    First-time mom with a 2-month old and trying to start a bedtime ritual by lotion and pj’s followed by a bottle, sometimes a bath then bottle, but it’s not easy since his eating is still so inconsistent…

  8. Profile photo of Janice Janice says:

    Starting a bed time habit, and rituals, helped me when my children were younger.

  9. Profile photo of adoreachild adoreachild says:

    How one could able to know that whether the baby is wake up by watching sweet dream or due to scary dream? http://www.adoreachild.com/

  10. These are great tips that helped me out. Now I know that every night around 8:30 I start getting my almost 3 month old ready for sleeping.

  11. Profile photo of Jblair12 Jblair12 says:

    i wish more parents would try this with their kids… many have said its not possible to get your child to sleep through the night as early as 3 months and I have always disagreed.

  12. Profile photo of Grace Grace says:

    tink get sidenotes!

  13. Profile photo of ChrisS ChrisS says:

    I’ll try this method. I hope it will help because I need some rest.

  14. Profile photo of dyna5150 dyna5150 says:

    great tips! mines only 5wks but Im really excited to get the routine started!

  15. Profile photo of TinkFL TinkFL says:

    How old is he?? Newborns or infants shouldn’t have night terrors, to my knowledge! Are you sure it’s terrors and not simply the startle reflex? I found that swaddling my son stops that.

  16. Profile photo of TinkFL TinkFL says:

    My recommendation (because it works wonderfully for us) is to establish a basic bedtime routine. At the same time every night – and you should stick to this part like glue – give your baby a bath. I caution against soaping every night, as this can cause his skin to dry out. Let him play in the water for about 15 minutes, or until he wears down. Next, give him a baby massage with lavender lotion before dressing him in night clothes (make sure these are clothes he ONLY sleeps in – it will help him to recognize bedtime as he gets older). For the massage, gently squeeze his limbs and pull down toward the ankles/wrists, like you are milking a cow. Keep the lights in the room dim during the massage and dressing, and speak softly. After he is dressed, give him a bottle or nurse him. I feed my son after his bath and before bed even if he has just eaten an hour or two before. It reinforces the routine, helps to soothe him, and ensures he is full before he goes to sleep.

    I began this routine with my son around 12 weeks, he is now 16 weeks. He wakes once in the night usually between 2 and 3 for a clean diaper and a meal, and goes right back to sleep until 8am.

    One other thing, I put him in his crib while he is still awake, but groggy. This let’s him learn self-soothing skills that he uses should he wake in the middle of the night.

  17. Profile photo of canniclee canniclee says:

    This is a very helpful article. Now if we could just fall asleep and stay asleep…

  18. Profile photo of malamonis malamonis says:

    great article!! and ‘Happiest Baby on the Block’ is an awesome book!! i recommend it to every parent!!

  19. Profile photo of marylove marylove says:

    When my boys we babies the ritual worked but now they are older it turns into an argument… I def. plan to have a ritual with the baby after he gets here… Kinda looking forward to it and miss it a whole lot… I used to read 2 books after bath time and then sing 2 lullabies and then bed.

  20. Profile photo of Deee Deee says:

    Night time rituals worked well with my second child but the first wow….I think im going to try it again with this baby. Wish me luck.

  21. Profile photo of Becca Becca says:

    I start my sons bed time off with a warm bath, then some lotion and a bottle i read to him and then set some music going on my laptop and where as he shares a room with me and my husband he listens to the same stuff we do. we tried him on the classical stuff but he wouldn’t have it.. but what do i do about his night frights?

  22. Profile photo of Leeana Leeana says:

    Our routine: calm and relaxing environment about 2 hours before bed time, nice calming bath, feed & books or last feed & songs. Before I put her in bat, i play her lullabies to cue that its bedtime

  23. Profile photo of Leeana Leeana says:

    I had to put the baby to sleep for several weeks alone to develop her routine since daddy wouldnt follow the routine sometimes

  24. Profile photo of jenniferb jenniferb says:

    i need help to get my daughter on a routine at all i work in the morning an her dad watches her he dosnt really follow anythng an then he goes to work as soon as i get home but then i have to pick him up an the times are always diffarent every night

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