Bedtime Routines Q&A with Stephanie from Peaceful Parenthood
Establishing a bedtime routine can feel tricky at first but we’re firm believers that having one can help your bubs sleep better. When your baby sleeps better, so you do so it’s a win-win for everyone! That’s why, we’ve sat down with Stephanie Richardson, Pediatric Sleep Counsellor from Peaceful Parenthood, Perinatal Registered Nurse, and Mom, again to get a sleep expert’s opinion on bedtime routines and how you can set this up in your home. In this Q&A, Stephanie chats about both newborn and toddler sleep so that all parents can benefit from her advice.
Curious about our first chat with her? We talked about safe sleep and if your baby really should be sleeping with a pillow. Read about it here.
When should you start a bedtime routine for your baby?
I recommend parents try to start a bedtime routine when their babies are around 2 months old. This is when they begin to develop an awareness of patterns, which will allow them to recognize that a series of events needs to happen before they go to sleep.
If your babe is more than 8 weeks old and you haven’t started - it’s all good. It’s never too late to start!
Want to start earlier than when your babe is 8 weeks old - even better! It’s never too early to start either!
Why is a bedtime routine important for a baby?
In a world full of constant new discoveries and sensations for our little ones, creating a predictable routine every night will provide them with a feeling of safety and security. A soothing routine will help calm them after a busy and stimulating day. It can also set the tone for a peaceful night ahead. Research shows that babies who have a consistent bedtime routine every night experience better overall night sleep!
Can you describe a typical routine for a baby & toddler?
Yes! This is a typical bedtime routine I recommend for babies/newborns:
- Bath time
- Storytime & snuggle
- Sleep Sack
- Into their crib for sleep
A typical bedtime routine for a toddler could be:
- Bath time
- Bedtime snack
- Brush teeth
- Use the washroom
- Storytime & snuggle
- Bedtime connection/conversation
- Lights out
How long would you put aside for each routine? What happens if you have multiple kids, do you cut one short?
A 20-30 minute bedtime routine is ideal and allows for a proper wind-down. This also depends on whether or not you’re incorporating a bath! I recommend you give yourself more time if you’re planning on adding a bath. At our house bath time is usually 15 minutes so your bedtime routine lasts between 35-45 minutes.
With multiple children, I always recommend trying to combine bedtime routines as best you can! For example, doing bath time and stories together. If you have two caregivers home at bedtime, you can always divide and conquer if that works best for your family. But if you’re solo at bedtime, then I recommend combining their routines as much as possible. This will make things so much easier!
Here’s an example of how I would combine a bedtime routine for two kids:
- Bathe together
- Both kids into their PJs
- Brush their teeth
- Storytime as a family
- Place your younger child down for night sleep first (most younger children go to bed a little bit earlier than their older sibling)
- Allow your older child to have some “quiet independent time” in their room while you’re finishing your youngest child’s bedtime routine
- Come back for some 1:1 toddler time before tucking them in for the night
At our house, our oldest (4 years old) goes to bed around 7:30 pm and our little guy (20 months) goes to bed around 7:00 pm. This stagger allows us to put the little guy down first and then come back for a snuggle and conversation with our oldest before tucking him in for the night!
It isn’t always seamless and sometimes combining bedtime routines can be challenging if the siblings work each other up! If you find doing bedtime together doesn’t go well, then that’s okay! Separate bedtime routines are also 100% doable if you plan ahead and stagger their routines and bedtimes appropriately.
Are there any non-negotiables in a bedtime routine?
Life gets busy and it can be really hard to squeeze in bath time every night (especially with multiple kids!) - but in our house, we try our best to get it done! Research shows that a warm bath before bedtime helps promote better sleep (in adults and children!). I also personally find bath time is a great way to bring an after-dinner playtime to an end and transition slowly into the start of a bedtime routine. This transition can be challenging for some toddlers so moving into more play in a bath instead of heading into their rooms right away can help ease them into bedtime.
How do I set up an ideal safe sleep environment for my baby?
To best support a restful night, you’ll want to place your baby down in an environment that is conducive to sleep. Here are my 3 tips for setting up a safe sleep environment:
- Dark! With our evenings getting longer, black-out blinds are helpful to keep that sunlight out of their room. Need a night light for night feeds? Or have a toddler who wants a night light in their room? Red light is a great option! Red light is scientifically proven to interfere the least with natural melatonin production.
- Quiet! A sound machine with white/pink noise can help block out any background household noise and help your babe/toddler stay asleep.
- Comfortable! A nursery temperature between 20-22 degrees Celsius is ideal. Paying attention to the season and choosing comfortable sleepwear and a temperature-appropriate sleep bag (especially for those without central air) is key!
What’s your favourite part of your bedtime routine with your boys?
We do story time together as a family! Our sons are 1.5 and 4 years old. It’s a nice way to all come together as a family before bedtime. Then after storytime (if both parents are home) we divide and conquer!
Can you suggest one bedtime conversation starter question?
This is by far my favourite part of the day! Before tucking in my oldest son, I always lay with him and ask him questions about his day. I find it’s when he opens up the most and we have a chance to dive into his little world and feelings.
I’ve got two go-to questions that I love asking him:
- What was your favourite part of the day today?
- What was something you did today that made you feel proud?
Find more bedtime conversation starters here.
Stephanie works with families to make sure they feel confident in helping their babies sleep. She believes fostering a strong connection between themselves and their baby is important while creating healthy sleep habits. Do you have more questions? Connect with Stephanie at Peaceful Parenthood to see how she can support you and your family.