Tag Archives: bedtime routine

A Consistent Bedtime Routine Helps Baby Sleep

A consistent bedtime routine is a powerful tool to help infants consolidate their sleep into longer periods at night.  And when baby sleeps, parents can too!

Researchers had parents implement a 3-step bedtime routine.  The steps were a bath, a massage, and a quiet activity like cuddling or singing a lullaby, in that order.  Lights out was within 30 minutes of finishing the bath.  Nothing else was changed, the parents continued to put their child to bed they way they had been.

After just two weeks of this bedtime routine, the babies woke up fewer times in the night, and were awake for shorter periods.  Their mothers were less likely to perceive the babies sleep as a problem.  Not only that, but the mothers’ mood improved, so they were less tense, less depressed and less angry.

This gives hope to new parents, that they can help their child sleep better in just a few weeks, and that this improves the well-being of the family too!

Dr. Darley will be speaking on ‘Help your baby ‘Sleep Like a Baby'” on Tues, June 1st, in Mukilteo Wa.  This program is sponsored by Program for Early Parenting Support.

The Infant and Family Sleep System

There’s no doubt about it, parenting can be hard.  For all those new parents, one of the biggest challenges is helping your infant get to sleep.  The other challenge is to get enough sleep yourself.

Whenever a family talks with me about their infant’s sleep, I also look at the parents sleep.  With all that data about sleep deprivation causing mood and performance impairments, it’s clear that when parents are sleep deprived, they are going to have more difficulty parenting. 

When working with these young families, I encourage them to write down a sleep plan for the family.  The first section is to establish a sleep routine for the child that is consistent, regardless of which caregiver they are with each day.  Parts of this plan should include:

1.  Pre-bed routine that happens before each nap and night-time sleep.  Components can include feeding, rocking, a song or book, a clean diaper.  Doing these activities in a predictable order before each sleep period will help your infant know when to sleep.

2.  An approximate time for each nap and bedtime.  These times will become more established as the infant gets older.

The second section of the sleep plan should be about the parents.  Start by thinking about how much sleep you need to feel good and function well each day.  Segments of this plan can include:

1.  A ‘rest’ or ‘stop’ time about an hour before bed that you will stop doing tasks and switch into relaxing activities. 

2. A bedtime and waketime for each adult which allows enough sleep time.  This should take into account any night-time care that disturbs sleep.  Frequently one of the parents will do most of the night-time care for the children.  If possible,  plan for that care-giver to be “off-duty” at least one or two nights a week so that they can have uninterrupted sleep.  In our household, when we had an infant my husband took care of the baby on Friday nights while I slept in the guest bed, and that solid sleep was so valuable!

Coming up on January 26th I’ll be speaking about infant sleep at the Good Sheperd Center for PEPS (program for early parenting support).  More information at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net under Events.