3 Ways to Perfect Your Newborn's Bedtime Routine

For most first-time parents, the revelation that newborn babies sleep 10.5 to 18 hours a day may come as very welcome news. Here are some key facts about your baby and sleep:

  • On average, newborns will sleep for stretches of two to four hours.
  • Establishing a regular bedtime routine with restful, uninterrupted sleep helps your baby learn to walk and talk faster.
  • Babies require nighttime feedings. Your newborn is not waking up in the middle of the night or the early hours of the night randomly, but out of necessity. Babies have small stomachs and need to feed every few hours to remain full.

Once you have the basics down, the next step is learning how to establish a healthy nighttime routine for your new child. Follow these steps to promote undisturbed, healthy sleep.

Help Babies Tuck In With The 5 S's

Soothe and calm babies with the five S's. The five S's is a technique developed by Author Dr. Harvey Karp. In his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Karp encourages parents to swaddle babies, rock them on their side, shush babies, swing them, and, the final S, let babies suck on a pacifier.

Swaddling is especially helpful for newborn babies. Use a swaddle to tuck in your little one up to his or her shoulders. A snug swaddle reminds babies of the womb, calming and soothing them to sleep. The second S stands for side or stomach. This is an optimal way to calm fussy babies while you are holding them. When babies are in their crib, it is important for them to sleep on their backs for safety reasons. Like swaddling, shushing babies recreates the conditions of the womb. Babies continually hear their mothers' blood flowing prior to birth. A gentle shushing or humming noise is familiar and comforting. Once again, swinging helps babies feel comforting sensations much like the sensations of the womb. Babies continually kick, fidget, and move in the womb. Swinging your baby from side to side or putting your baby in a swing recreates this motion. Finally, giving your baby a pacifier helps him or her self-soothe and helps them sleep more soundly. To prevent tooth-related issues, cut off pacifier use by age two.

Set The Scene

White noise, soft music, and a reassuring cuddle are best to set the scene. Keep babies' rooms temperate--at no more than 68 to 72 degrees. These moderate temperatures will help your baby drift off to sleep while protecting them from overheating or getting too warm while sleeping. Use hypoallergenic sheets -- often just a single sheet at a time -- to keep respiratory problems at bay.

Another good idea is to set a bedtime. For the most part, newborns do not settle into a perfect bedtime routine. Newborns may generally wind down around 9:30 p.m. During this stage, it is important to stick to a routine whenever possible. It is also important to get sleep while you can (often while the baby is sleeping). At three or four months old, parents can begin reigning in bedtime and establishing a regular routine beginning at 8 p.m. or earlier. To encourage babies to wake up at a particular time, feed them regularly at that time every morning until the routine sets in.

Put Babies To Sleep In Their Own Bed

Another important part of routine--other than an established bedtime and swaddling, swinging, or cuddling before bed -- is the environment. Do your research about baby crib sheets and hypoallergenic sheets. Select whatever materials suit your baby best and put them to bed in their crib, on their special hypoallergenic sheets, and in their space every night. Doing this will cue to your baby that it is time to close their eyes and go to sleep.

On average, new parents sleep four hours and 44 minutes per night. Master your infant's bedtime routine for more restful sleep. Follow Dr. Karp's five S's, introduce a routine, and put your baby to bed on the same hypoallergenic sheets every night.