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Creating a bedtime routine for your baby

As a parent, dealing with broken sleep is tough. You might often wonder if the amount of sleep your baby is getting is normal 

Babies and toddlers have their own agenda when it comes to sleep and while it’s good to chat with your friends and family, your baby is your baby... they’re unique. This means they won’t be the same as anyone else, or follow anyone else’s path, so try not to compare. 

From 3 months old you can start to introduce a bedtime routine for your babyThis is a good chance to spend time bonding with your baby. A bedtime routine should last around 30-45 minutes. Any longer and your baby may become overtired.  

It’s good to start off by helping your baby to learn the difference between daytime and night-time: 

  • Keep the lights low
  • Quiet voices
  • Avoid playing with your baby before bedtime and over exciting them 

Follow the same order with your bedtime routine, and do it at the same time every day, so that your baby knows what to expect next. Some things you might want to include in their routine are: 

  • Giving their milk feed at the start of their bedtime routine, which can help break the cycle of feeding to sleep
  • Giving them a bath 
  • Brushing their teeth (if they have any- as soon as they get one!)
  • Massage and quiet music 
  • Changing to night clothes and putting on a fresh nappy 
  • Reading a book, or singing a song 
  • A cuddle and a kiss good night 

We don't recommend the use of medication, or sleep support supplements such as the chewable gummies available for babies and young toddlers. Some products do not have an age range they are suitable from but we would advise against the use of these products. 

If you have a nice bedtime routine in place and you find you’re still struggling with sleep, remember it might not be anything you’re doing. There are many reasons why your baby’s sleep might be disturbed and this could even change on a daily or weekly basis.

  • Your baby is growing really fast and this includes their brains! So it’s no surprise they might wake in the night when they’re having spurts of growth/brain development.  
  • Teething can be painful for your baby and can cause them to wake in discomfort, try comforting your baby back to sleep. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given to relieve teething symptoms in babies aged 3 months or  
  • Illness can cause your baby to wake up in pain/discomfort… it is natural and they may just need you to comfort them.

If you’re struggling because you’re just not getting enough sleep yourself - do you have a partner, family member or friend you could ask for support? Even if it’s just so that you can rest during the daytime. The best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to try and make sure you are able to cope.

If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, don’t be afraid to speak to your health visitor; they’re always there for you.

If you’d like more information, visit our pages on sleep. The BASIS website also has some great information on sleep and the Lullaby Trust is a brilliant source of advice for safe sleeping.

As always, if you feel worried about your baby’s health, contact your Health Visitor, GP or NHS 111.  

Updated May 2024

About the author

Samantha Hutchinson is a Community Nursery Nurse