Helping your baby get to sleep peacefully is something that every parent desires. Today I’m going to give you 7 sleep cues that reduce stress and help baby bedtime nirvana. Having a sleep cue helps that transition from day to night and helps prepare baby for day naps too.
1. Bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is crucial in giving your baby the message that bedtime is coming. Once a tired baby sees the familiar routine it calms them and allows them to know that the relief of sleep isn’t far away. It’s important to try and stick to the same bedtime routine each night though not at the expense of tired signs. If you see baby is getting overtired then cut the bedtime routine short and bring bedtime closer.
2. Dim lighting
Turning the lights down low is one of the first sleep cues we should think about. It really prepares baby for a change of pace and dim lighting has the effect of turning on melatonin, the neurotransmitter that helps baby get to sleep and stay asleep. So having the ability to dim baby’s nursery light, or have a bedside light with a low watt bulb for reading, really helps that bedtime process.
Baths are a great way of letting baby know that the end of their day has arrived. They relax their bodies and reduce cortisol the stress hormone and are a really pleasurable way to wind down. A lot of parents I meet have a bath with their baby and that can be a great bonding experience as well as a lot of fun. Try not to extend out that bath time though as small babies need to get to bed quickly. And the zen little baby you saw in the bath can easily turn into a possessed child if they stay in the water too long and become overtired.
4. Baby Massage
Baby massage helps babies get to sleep much quicker and babies who are massaged every day can sleep up to an hour extra than babies who are not massaged. If parents knew this I think every baby would be massaged every single day! You might choose to do a longer massage in the afternoon and then do a shorter one just after the bath and directly before bed. Make massage part of your bedtime routine every day and I think you will reap the benefits very quickly. Want to learn more, then learn more via my ebook with embedded video: Baby Massage: The Magic of Touch.
5. Cot, crib or bassinet
Baby’s bassinet and cot or crib are great sleep associations and are a constant in your child’s’ life. At 4 months move to a cot or crib as this gives baby the opportunity to move about and roll. Once babies can roll onto their tummies they sleep longer and deeper. Practicing that rolling over at 3-4 months is crucial. The more floor time you give baby in the day the quicker this skill will be achieved and the better your baby will sleep. Once baby can roll over in their cot this is not a SIDS risk. It’s important that baby’s crib or cot is SIDS safe and free of toys and pillows and loose bedding.
- To allow movement for that rollover here’s a blog on: Moving on from swaddling baby at 4 months
- Here’s my cheat sheet to: Teaching baby how to do tummy time and enjoy it
A cozy sleep suit or sleeping bag is a must in winter. Baby needs to be warm and toasty in those colder months. Babies lose body heat 4 times as quickly as an adult does so having a good quality sleepsuit is a must and one that’s breathable and made of natural fibers such as merino wool or cotton. Read sleeping bag recommendations direct from mums I know here: Helping your baby sleep through the night
7. Reading a book
And last but not least is a good bedtime book. Reading to your child is a truly pleasurable experience and should be part of every bedtime routine. A book with a sleep theme is a great sleep cue and is a great way to separate out feeding and sleeping. These are a list of my favourite bedtime books for babies and toddlers. I hope you loved my top sleep cues and a way to prepare your child for a peaceful nights sleep. Share it with your mother’s group and friends to pass the sleep karma forward.