As a parent of a newborn, you’ll realize that it takes time for you and your baby to adjust to a set schedule. When your baby is older and more aware of his surroundings, finding a good rhythm in your daily routine is important, especially for bedtime, notoriously the hardest part of the day. So if your baby is hitting the half-year mark, you're probably wondering how to make the perfect bedtime routine for a 6-month-old.
Creating a working, calming bedtime routine will help not just your baby, but you as well. After a long day of being a super mom, you should be able to have some down time to rest and relax, too. “Getting into a good bedtime routine is simple," says certified sleep consultant Christine Stevens of Sleepy Tots Consulting. She tells Romper that if you don’t already have a bedtime routine, or if yours isn’t very consistent, you should get started on one as soon as you can.
"Whatever your bedtime routine is," Stevens suggests, "make sure it’s consistent and at the same time every night.” For a 6-month-old, she recommends starting your routine about 30 minutes before baby’s bedtime so they have time to wind down and learn that it is time to sleep.
So what exactly should your bedtime routine look like? Stevens says that you can start by calming your baby with a relaxing bath or wipe down with a warm wet washcloth. Once bath time is over, she suggests putting baby into their pajamas, and then sitting down to read a book or two, before putting them down in bed.
There are a few other things to consider when creating a good bedtime routine for your baby. Pediatrician Dr. Jarret Patton tells Romper in an interview that you should separate feeding time at night with your bedtime routine. "One thing you should not do is give the bottle right before bed," suggests Patton, "because this can lead to dental caries in the long run if the habit of feeding at bedtime begins."
Patton says that by 6 months, your baby should be sleeping through the night, so after you establish your bedtime routine, you should stand firm and resist the temptation of your baby trying to call you back or spend more time with them.
But know that there will be times when your baby's bedtime routine will go out of whack. Babies can be fussier and may need more comfort when they are feeling under the weather. "Understand that with illness, like a cold or a virus, their sleep pattern may be disrupted," says Patton, "but as they get better, the sooner you go back to the old routine, the sooner they will be sleeping soundly through the night again."
If you are co-sleeping or breastsleeping like I did, your bedtime routine may just be having your baby fall asleep at the breast while breastfeeding. I did this for both of my kids, and often I would fall asleep with them. Many people disagree about associating feeding with sleeping, but for me, this was the easiest and most relaxed method, so I stuck with it.
So while all bedtime routines aren't created equal, they should be created in a way that keeps you and your child sane and happy. “Bedtime routines should be loving, relaxing times of the day to spend with your child," Stevens says. While some babies may relax with books or baths, others may wind down easier with soft music or a soothing song, so stick to methods that work best for you and your baby.
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