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Establishing a Settling Routine Before Baby’s Bedtime

4 min read | 13 July 2020

Just a few short weeks after bringing your baby home, you may find yourselves deeply engrossed in the topic of sleep. Sleep is precious, for you and your baby. However, often it is the thing you get the least of as you navigate your way through the early stages of parenthood.


There are so many resources and tools that parents can tap into, as well as techniques you may like to try at home to establish a consistent sleep pattern for your baby. What has been proven to work in many cases is a routine of settling your baby before bedtime, so that they start to recognise the cues for sleep, well before you lay them down.

We encourage you to try a range of different things to test and learn what works best for you. Below is a small list of things you might like to try in the lead up to bedtime to assist in establishing a settling routine for your little one.

Massage

You can take short course in baby massage, or for a beginner’s introduction, visit our journal article on the benefits of massage.

Massaging your baby before bedtime can assist in soothing your baby, increasing their serotonin levels and reducing cortisol levels often associated with angst.

If performed consistently, your baby will begin to recognise that being massaged means it is almost bedtime and the natural settling process can commence.

Sponge Bath

If you find full immersion bathing of your newborn too tricky to perform nightly in the early days, a sponge bath can be a wonderful way to bond and prepare your baby for sleep.

If performed in the same way each night, sponge bathing assists in setting up trigger activities for your baby to recognise as a pattern in the lead up to bedtime.

For more information on bathing your baby before bedtime, visit our journal article on the benefits of massage.

Skin on Skin Time

Experts are still unlocking the many benefits of having skin on skin time (skin-to-skin) with your baby. Some of the benefits we already know about are:

  • Assists in boosting your baby’s immune system

  • Can aid in reducing stress by increasing serotonin and oxytocin.

  • Improved bonding between parent and baby

All of the above benefits are extremely helpful in settling your baby before bedtime. It is recommended that regular skin on skin time is scheduled each night just before you put your baby down to sleep.

Skin on skin is simply performed by having your baby’s skin against yours. Keep in mind they can still be wearing a nappy and still be draped in a blanket around the shoulders. Your baby should be held upwards on your shoulder, rather than a breast feeding position which will cue them to want to feed. Hold them skin on skin so that your baby can smell you, warm up with your body temperature and feel your heartbeat.

Softly brushing their hair and scalp

Using a soft baby brush, either made from goat’s hair or features soft bristles, gently stroke your baby’s hair before bedtime to soothe and calm them.

You can brush in a circular motion as well, which can assist in releasing any cradle cap and stimulate blood circulation.

Above are just a few techniques, but there are so many more. The key is to be consistent with the ones that work for you, to ensure the pattern towards sleep is recognisable for your baby.

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