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7 Simple Steps to The Best Baby Bedtime Routine for a Great Night’s Sleep

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How do I establish a bedtime routine for my baby?

Bedtime can be one of the hardest things to conquer as a new parent.

I know sleep has never come easy in our house.

Those early days of parenthood when my husband and I were sleeping in shifts so our son would sleep. And having to rock my son to sleep and hold him during his naps.

It has been a struggle.

But the best thing that worked in our house was setting up a baby bedtime routine very early on. We’ve used this routine consistently for 2.5 years, and it seems to be the best thing we’ve done to keep the sleep struggles at bay.

The best way to establish a baby bedtime routine is to start early and be consistent. Babies thrive on routines (source). If they know what to expect, it’s less likely you’ll be dealing with a meltdown.

Keep reading to check out the 7 simple steps to set up your own baby bedtime routine.

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baby sleeping in tiny bed
Photo by irem Dülek

When should you start a bedtime routine with baby?

I started my baby sleep routine the night we came home from the hospital.

I was super concerned with my baby not sleeping and what I was going to do when I had to go back to work. So, I wanted to get a bedtime routine started as early as possible.

Obviously, being three days old, he had no idea what was going on.

But our days were filled with breastfeeding struggles, mom and dad not getting enough sleep, and finding time to cook meals or even get a shower.

I wanted one part of our day to be something that was within our control and we could look forward to as a family.

It was a great way to calm everyone down after a hectic day.

clock in baby's nursery
Photo by Augustas P from Pexels

When should a baby’s bedtime be?

When my son was three months old, we would do our baby bedtime routine at 10 o’clock. And he would fall asleep while breastfeeding.

He’d wake up in an hour and eat again. Then be ready to go in the bassinet.

At four months, he started falling asleep around 9.

And by 5 or 6 months, he was asleep by 7:30.

We’ve kept the 7:30 bedtime up to about the 1.5-year mark, and he usually gets about 11-12 hours of sleep each night.

sleeping baby
Photo by Dobromir Dobrev

What is the best baby bedtime routine?

This is the baby bedtime routine I’ve been using for my son since we came home from the hospital. Consistency is key when starting a new routine. Try this routine for at least two to three weeks and then tweak it as you find necessary.

1. Give baby a bath and put on pajamas

Baths are usually great at calming kids down, especially when you use lavender bath soap. However, young babies aren’t always a fan of bath time. (I know mine wasn’t.)

And babies actually don’t need a bath every night, as it will dry out their skin (source).

So, if you want to skip the nightly bath, that’s fine. (Just make sure you are wiping their bottom clean, and bath after any diaper blowouts.)

Get baby in a clean diaper and comfy pajamas. And use a Velcro swaddle if baby is still young enough. (I swaddled until about 5 months, then switched to a sleep sack to keep him warm.)

2. Give a final bottle (or breastfeed) then brush teeth

Small babies will usually fall asleep while eating.

Once your baby is a little older, he will be able to stay awake to finish his bedtime routine.

And once that first little tooth pokes its way through, it is recommended to brush those teeth before bedtime.

This can be quite a chore with little ones (especially if their gums are sore). So, try this teething brush to get them used to the idea and get the job done.

3. Read books

I usually read three books each night before bedtime. They’re toddler board books, so they’re not very long.

And I always save this one as the final book of the night. (And now I have it memorized, which comes in handy if you ever forget to pack it in your diaper bag.) But we change the other ones every night.

baby bedtime routine: mom watching her sleeping baby

4. Say prayers or show gratitude

We say our prayers as part of our baby bedtime routine. And a prayer we pray a lot is please let us all get some good rest tonight.

If praying is not your thing, may I suggest you have a way of showing gratitude for the things in your life. Make it as simple as saying I’m thankful for: these 5 things.

It’s a great way to end what was probably a very chaotic day and it recenters you to think about all you have. It’s also a great way to show your child how to be grateful.

Yes, they are too young to understand right now. But your baby bedtime routine is likely something you’ll continue throughout most of their life.

5. Say night-night

After prayers, we always say night-night to mommy and daddy. And give hugs and kisses, if that’s your thing.

As your kiddo ages, this may include saying goodnight to his favorite stuffed toys.

If we have company at bedtime, we make sure to tell them goodnight. And once my son was old enough to know people were around, we let him know they all had to go to bed too. It wasn’t just him.

woman rocking baby in nursery
Photo by Vicki Yde

6. Rock or sway

Once you stop feeding your baby to sleep, you may still want some special cuddles before bed.

So go ahead and spend some time in that rocking chair with your little one. (They’re not this small for long, so enjoy those special moments.)

This is tricky though to not let your baby fall asleep before you put him in the crib or bassinet, as the motion of laying him down may wake him up.

I found that swaying back and forth on the way to the crib was a good substitute for the rocker and still gave us that close time before bed.

7. Put baby down in crib or bassinet

After you’ve done all of the above, it’s finally time to put baby down for the night.

Always put baby on his back and keep the sleep area free of blankets and toys.

I have used a baby sound machine since the first night in the hospital, which has really seemed to help drown out any distractions for my son to get to sleep. This one has multiple settings for running times and sounds, and it also has a nightlight feature.

Related: Best Baby Sound Machines


There you have it: the 7 simple steps to setting up a baby bedtime routine. Hopefully, you’ve found something here that can help you get the sleep you need.

Do you have a baby bedtime routine? Let us know in the comments.

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7 Simple Steps to The Best Baby Bedtime Routine for a Great Night’s Sleep

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