It's so good that you're thinking about this. It's true,
there are all kinds of ideas for bedtime routines, and most of them are good:
feeding, reading, bath, massage, even playtime can be part of the nightly wind-down ritual.
One of the most common roadblocks to good sleep, though, is
that the bedtime routine makes the baby too
Sounds counterintuitive, right?
After a certain age, bedtime
routines should be interesting and engaging, not very drowsy-making. We often
see parents waiting too long to start the bedtime routine, or making their
little ones too tired during the routine.
Why is this a problem? Because baby goes into bed nice and
sleepy—eyes closing and drifting off—and then wakes up a few hours later
confused or unclear about what to do to put herself back to sleep again.
Here's a nice and calm but not drowsy-making routine for
Bath (optional, of course)
Say goodnight to things in the room
Sing a song
Kiss and into crib
If your baby's bedtime is 7 p.m., this routine could start
anywhere between 6 and 6:30 p.m., depending on how long you spend on each step. Notice how the feeding part is separated
from the falling asleep part. Over time, this helps your baby stay in charge of
her sleep, so when she wakes in the night, she knows what to do (except if
her tummy is telling her it's time for a regular feeding).
In general, if a routine is working there's no reason to change
it (if it's not broken, don't fix it!). So if you like your bedtime routine and
baby is sleeping well, you should keep right on doing it.
Just remember: Routines change and grow as our babies do, so keep adjusting it to fit her
development and her little interests.