bedtime routine pic

A great bedtime routine to help your baby sleep through the night

When they are newborn

It takes around 6 – 8 weeks for a baby to begin to get their days and nights sorted out. After this time they usually begin to sleep for longer periods during the night.

There are 7 keys things that you can do to help them along with this process:

1 – Feed them on demand. Babies are more settled with a full tummy and lots of cuddles.

2- “Cluster feed” in the evening. This means giving lots of feeds close together. The reason this helps is that in the evening, breast milk contains raised levels of Tryptophan.  Tryptophan is an amino acid which converts to a sleep hormone!

3- Allow them to experience the difference between nighttime and daylight. This encourages the production of nighttime sleep hormones and helps to set your baby’s circadian clock.

4- Wind them well after the final feed. Hold them upright and use deep, circular strokes to the base of their back. This works better than tapping their upper back.

5 – Introduce a bedtime song or poem which will become a sleep association. Spoken or sung cues are lovely portable elements associated with sleep.

6 – Try whenever possible to put them into the cot relaxed but still awake. It’s important that when they wake later, they don’t feel confused about no longer being in your arms. 

7 – At around 6-8 weeks, when your baby starts doing longer stretches of sleep at night time, introduce a lovely consistent bedtime routine. 

What is a bedtime routine?

The best bedtime routines provide a familiar series of steps leading up to them going to sleep. 

Each of these steps will in time become a mini sleep trigger for your baby. 

The routine can be short and sweet, or a bit longer – providing that it works for you and is consistent. 

The best time to begin the routine is when you know that they are nearly ready to sleep. 

The process of the routine is more important than the time at which it is carried out. So if they’ve slept late in the afternoon, you’ll need to start the routine later. Putting a baby to bed with lots of energy to spare is likely to result in crying and calling for you. It can also result in them developing negative associations with bedtime.

Equally, try avoid your baby from being over tired at bedtime. When this happens, they can struggle to settle, as they become stressed.

Here’s the perfect routine!

Don’t start too early! Half an hour before the expected sleep time is enough

Turn the TV or radio off. Put on soft music or just have quietness. Put your phone away.

Take everything that you need for the night with you, to avoid having to come back into the living room.

Follow a similar bedtime “script” by using familiar phrases and actions during the routine.

Bath them every night if you can. If you can’t, still try to have a washing “ritual” each night.

Go directly to the room that your baby sleeps in from the bathroom.

Dress them for bed – don’t worry if they’re wriggly & cross – they usually are at this time!

Give the final feed in the bedroom and don’t let them fall asleep on it.

Keep the light on or curtains open to prevent this

Don’t give them their bottle in their cot.

After the milk, look at a book together – sitting on your knee rather than in their cot.

Put them into their cot whilst they are fully awake.

Kiss them goodnight and then teach them how to fall asleep – knowing that now they are naturally ready to do it!

Other ways to promote good sleep

Many sleep problems are caused by babies being rocked or fed to sleep. 

When babies wake up later, during a natural sleep cycle, they are understandably upset to be in a different place. 

Most parents react by picking their baby up and rocking or feeding back to sleep again. 

Remember: you cannot prevent your baby from waking in the night. What you can do is to teach them to feel comfortable in their cot and to settle back down. 

The best way to do this is to put them down awake at the start of the night. Then leave them to self-settle if they’re ok with that. If they’re not, stay beside them using patting/stroking/kind words/singing etc. until they eventually settle. Give them as long as they need.

From about 2-3 months, they have a build-up of their internal sleep hormone [melatonin] towards the end of the day. 

They also have a natural build-up of “sleep pressure,” which comes from how long they’ve been awake.  

These important factors mean that babies are biologically programmed to sleep at the end of the day. 

Don’t break the sleep pressure by letting them get too drowsy in your arms before putting them in the cot and they will soon go to sleep. Just give them time and don’t lose your confidence.

Further help

If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep or have any questions, I am here to help you.

My books

My bestselling books give you the tools to help your baby and yourself get a good night’s sleep. They are full of expert, practical advice and case studies. Each book teaches you to create your baby or child’s personal sleep plan and is written in a clear and accessible style.

They are available in all formats from Amazon and other booksellers.

My courses

My courses are a mix of video, graphics and easy-to-read text. They are a great way to access my expert help – from your phone, tablet or laptop. The courses have no expiry date and are updated frequently. The Gentle Sleep Course is very comprehensive, easy to dip in and out of and is very empowering.

The Early Waking Course is concise and accessible – it takes around an hour to complete and it may be the best hour you’ve ever spent!

Both of the courses contain helpful schedules for day and night time sleep.

My 1:1 consultations

If you choose to book a one-to-one consultation with me, you will receive my expert advice along with an individual sleep plan for your child. You will be in very safe, experienced hands and I treat every parent and child with kindness.

As a qualified health professional, I can help families with medical and developmental issues. My success rate is outstanding, with over 15,000 face-to-face sleep consultations with families from all over the world.

See my reviews on Trustpilot

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