Your baby's bedtime routine is a wonderful way to calm your little darling and prepare her for a good night's slumber. While it's true that all babies are different, most children will respond to a regular routine that lets them know what to expect and that it's time for sleep. Establishing a bedtime ritual will help your little one unwind and enter the land of Nod, which is so important for their wellbeing - and for yours!
Having said that, tiny tots have a way of surprising you so while it's important to try and stick to your bedtime routine as best as possible, don't be discouraged if things don't always fall into place.
A bedtime routine is such an important way to prepare your baby for a good night's sleep, plus a lovely way to bond at the end of the day. We spoke to Clio Wood from &Breathe, a post-natal retreat company, who gave us some brilliant tips for achieving the smoothest evening routine.
Make bath time fun
Although many babies love splashing around in water, for some tiny tots, bath time can be tricky. Try keeping little ones distracted and entertained with a fun bath tub toy. Some parents might find it helpful to start playing with the toy outside the tub and then bring it into the warm water with your little one.
It's boring but taking a few minutes each day to make sure that everything is in its proper place can save you a lot of trouble later. For example, by ensuring that the baby's changing area is organised and fully stocked with wipes, lotion and cotton buds, you'll be able to transfer your little one from nappy area to bed with minimum fuss. Because if your little one is just about to doze off then you don't want to have to spend 15 minutes hunting for the nappy cream!
Clio Wood also recommends keeping a change kit in different areas of the house. She says, 'that way you're not having to rummage around at the most inconvenient moments.'
Buy in bulk
Imagine getting your little one bathed and soothed before bed time, and just as you're about to change her nappy you realise that you've run out! When it comes to those items that you always need plenty of (like nappies and baby wipes), it often makes sense to buy in bulk. That way, you're less likely to run out. If you're buying big bottles and packets however, it makes sense to decant some of those bigger bottles into smaller ones, says Clio Wood, 'that way you can buy in bulk without having to carry the whole tub around in your nappy bag.'
Give your baby a massage
Many parents find that a soothing massage relaxes their little angel, especially after her bath. Using a small amount of baby oil or moisturiser that's been warmed in the palm of your hands, gently massage your baby's arms and legs using long strokes.
Prep milk quickly
When hunger strikes, the difference between a crying baby and a gurgling one can be a matter of minutes. Make prepping your baby's bottle a cinch with Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine that makes a fresh bottle at body temperature in just two minutes. With this clever gadget in the house, a perfectly warmed bottle is always at hand. If you're breast feeding and want to always have breast milk on hand even when you're not around, then a breast pump is very useful. Many mums get most milk in the morning, so it may be best to try this. You should pump half an hour to an hour after your last feed, or at least one hour before your next feed.
Read a book
Adults aren't the only ones who need to wind down before bedtime. Even if your little one doesn't understand what you're saying, she'll love hearing your voice and reading to her early will help her develop language skills. We're big fans of Dr Seuss for bedtime reading, and we'd like to think there's some wisdom in there for adults, too!
Invest in a baby monitor
Putting your little one down to sleep means you can finally relax, right? If only. As any mum knows, try as you might, you can never really stop worrying. But a good baby monitor can help ease your mind. Try one that allows you to speak to your little one if they're being fussy, can play lullabies and of course allows you to see how your sweetheart is doing. Clio Wood also suggests sharing the night feeds with your partner, 'letting your partner do one of the feeds in the early days is a sanity-saver. If you need more sleep and feel able to hand over the reins for just one feed, make sure you do and enjoy the sleep.'