Evening rituals are one of my favourite ways to help instil a sense of predictability, and the best part is – they’re easy to implement and they can help your baby or toddler settle faster and easier – it’s a win win!
Firstly, understanding the why behind an evening routine/ritual is important. A ritual is something that you do more or less the same majority of time, and a routine, whilst similar in nature to a ritual is based on the timing in which your ritual is done. I love both!
The benefits are endless, but here are a few of my favourites
- The predictability means that your baby will learn what’s coming next.
- They will associate the ritual with winding down and getting ready for sleep, once it’s in place you may even notice that they are becoming noticeably more tired during it as they start to anticipate that sleep is coming next
- It makes parents feel calm and in control – they have predictable steps to take in the lead up the bedtime which takes away any sense of uncertainty, especially during those ‘witching hours’
- It can be started any time, at any age and the benefits are still there – so if your baby is no longer a baby and is more a toddler or a pre-schooler, don’t worry! It’s not too late to start.
So how do start? And what time should it all occur.
- Start by looking at your baby’s current nap routine, consider what their awake time should be for their age (more about this on my website www.sleepandco.com.au/sleep-resources)
- From there, look at their optimal bedtime based on their last nap of the day, and work your way backwards – see the example below for some approximate time frames and then adjust yours based on the needs of your family
- An evening routine and ritual does not need to be complicated, in fact keeping it simple means that you can easily replicate it when you’re little one is being looked after by someone else, or if you’re not in your home environment.
5pm – milk feed or dinner (depending on baby’s age and if they’ve started solids)
5.30 pm - bath or shower. Use calming products such as the GAIA Sleeptime Bath
6pm – take them into their room to get dressed. Play calming music or white noise and engage in a calming ritual such as baby massage (GAIA Baby massage oil really helps) singing a lullaby or reading a book with them
6.30pm – offer their final milk feed, and then settle them for sleep.
For more sleep help, my website can guide you in the right direction www.sleepandco.com.au
Written by Abbey O’Hearn – Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and Owner of ‘Sleep and Co’