Establishing a bedtime routine for your infant isn’t always easy, especially since babies’ needs change so fast as they develop. However, making the effort to stick to a routine can pay off big-time when it comes to your baby’s sleep.
My daughter Margot is eight months old and typically sleeps from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. I can tell that routine is key for getting her to sleep through the night because when we travel and her schedule is altered, she’s much more likely to wake up at odd hours.
Here’s what our ideal nightly routine looks like as well as some of the products I’ve found most helpful:
My eight-month-old normally takes her afternoon nap at 2 p.m. and wakes up around 4 p.m. I feed her and then she comes into the kitchen with me to play while I make dinner. My husband Nick gets home around 6 p.m. most days and is ready to eat!
Now that my daughter is old enough to sit in her high chair unassisted and eat her own dinner, it’s become a really special time for the whole family. We are doing baby-led weaning, so Margot typically feeds herself a pared-down version of what we parents are eating – she particularly enjoys zucchini spears, sweet potato fries, and tomato wedges! The app Solid Starts has been a lifesaver for figuring out how to introduce new foods to Margot.
Cleanup and Play
When a baby feeds herself, there’s one thing you can count on, and that’s food ending up on the floor. I clean up dishes and dropped food while Margot and her dad play. Luckily, Margot’s food-catching bib just needs a rinse in the sink and it’s good as new. She uses these bibs from Lalo that come in a variety of cute colors and are made of non-toxic silicone. We have the sage green set.
After dinner, we gather on the couch for our family devotion. It’s a short part of our nightly routine, but it might be the most important! We use Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship by Jonathan Gibson. Be Thou My Vision incorporates Scripture, catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, and more in each daily reading. Sometimes Margot wants to watch her dad read, sometimes she wants to feed – we just go with the flow each night.
We chose to delay giving our baby her first real bath – you can read more about why you may want to do that here – but now that Margot is eight months old, bathtime is a key part of her nightly routine. She’s also old enough to splash and play in the bath, which makes it hard to tell her that bath time is over!
There are so many items marketed to new parents for bath time, but our family only uses a few products. We use a bathtub insert similar to this one that allows your baby to sit up on her own (it’s also great because you don’t have to fill up your entire bathtub). Rather than turning on the overhead light in our bathroom, we use the VAVA Baby Night Light to help Margot wind down. Its gentle glow tells her it’s time for bed! I am a huge fan of this night light and have even gifted it to friends who are expecting.
I’ll admit that we haven’t even bought bath toys for Margot. She doesn’t seem to mind, and I don’t have to worry about the potential for moldy bath toys. She enjoys splashing and playing with the cups we use to pour water as much as any toy!
Bedtime and Night Feed
After I dry her off, it’s time for lotion so that her sensitive skin doesn’t dry out! I use Mommy’s Bliss Baby Eczema Ease Night Time Body Lotion every night and it takes care of any flare-ups Margot may have had during the day. I also use Mommy’s Bliss Baby Eczema Ease Daily Moisturizer during the day. (Did you know Mommy’s Bliss doesn’t just make products for baby? I’ve been taking their Lactation Support + Probiotics capsules daily.)
Scent is a part of your baby’s nightly routine that we don’t often talk about, but it can make a big difference. A little bit of aromatherapy each night can signal to a child that it’s time for bed, according to Parent.com. I absolutely love the scent of lavender; however, many products I’ve purchased that claim to be lavender-scented smell artificial and weird. Waxelene’s Calming Ointment has a real, natural lavender scent and is formulated to work for babies, adults, and kids.
It used to be really hard to keep my baby still while I applied lotion after bath time, but baby massage seems to soothe her and keep her still. Check out the Instagram account @getkahlmi for more information about baby massage – you’ll learn how to make sure that product actually gets soaked into baby’s skin and help her feel good while you do it!
After Margot’s in her pajamas and her humidifier is turned on, it’s time for her last feed of the night. Ideally, I’d want to put her down awake so she can self-soothe, but most nights I feed her to sleep, and she still gets a good night’s sleep.
With baby down, it’s parent time! I catch up with Nick about his day before finishing up a few chores and going to sleep myself. Time to do it all again tomorrow!