Newborn Bedtime Routines and Time to Put Baby to Bed

A good bedtime routine can help your newborn baby sleep better at night and take longer naps. But, what is a good bedtime routine for a newborn and when should you start using one? And, what time do you put your newborn to bed? This post will share all you need to know about bedtime routines for your newborn.

Newborn Bedtime Routine Ideas

Bedtime routines will change over time as your baby goes from newborn to young baby to a toddler or preschooler. The best bedtime routines typically have a few things in common. Good bedtime routines start and end the same way, are consistent, and most of all, they are soothing.

A bedtime routine, especially for your newborn, does not have to be very long or complicated. Most bedtime routines are ~10 minutes at nap time and ~20-30 minutes at bedtime. Here is a sample bedtime routine:

  1. Give the baby a bath.
  2. Apply some lotion with lavender for calming comfort.
  3. With the lotion, do a little baby massage.
  4. Put on a clean diaper (if you are not doing Elimination Communication).
  5. Put on your baby’s onesie and pajamas.
  6. Turn on white noise.
  7. Swaddle your newborn safely and snugly.
  8. Feed and burp your baby.
  9. Rock or sway gently for a few minutes and lay them down on their back in their bassinet, bedside bassinet, or crib.
  10. Soothe them while in their bed, if necessary, to get them to fall the rest of the way to sleep.

At first, your baby won’t know this is a routine but when you do this consistently for enough days in a row, it will cue them to fall asleep easier and faster.

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Can You Do a Newborn Bedtime Routine Without a Bath?

Some parents find that their baby is not soothed by a bath. Some babies don’t like them while others like them a little too much, and then don’t like to get out. Both of my boys got very hyper when they took a bath!

Also, keep in mind that we all sleep best when our body temperature is lower. A warm bath can increase our body temperature and make it take longer to fall asleep.

So, feel free to do your baby’s bedtime routine but without the bath. You can do a bath earlier in the day or you can consider wiping your baby down with a warm, damp cloth instead.

Until your baby is older and moving around, they aren’t accumulating much dirt to need a bath every day. And, in fact, it can dry out their skin considerably. And, if your baby has eczema, it’s not a good idea to use soap every day.

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When Do You Start a Bedtime Routine for Baby?

At what age should you start a bedtime routine for your newborn? It doesn’t hurt to start from birth but until your baby can stay awake for longer periods of time, it might feel like all you have time for is a feeding and diaper change before your baby is falling asleep, again!

In the early days, newborns don’t stay awake very long. Sometimes they stay awake for only 45-60 minutes at a time! Most newborns stay awake 1-2 hours TOPS.

There is no right or wrong age to start a bedtime routine but we encourage them as early as 4 to 6 weeks old. Until then, your baby might not need anything special to fall asleep since many newborns are so sleepy in the first place.

Time to Put Newborns to Bed

As your newborn’s day/night confusion goes away, they will start to stay awake for longer periods of time during the day. They will take naps and it might start to feel like daytime is now distinct from the nighttime. This is the time we start to think about setting a specific “bedtime.”

When you decide on the time to put your newborn to bed, you must keep in mind that newborns often only sleep 8-10 hours at night (on and off with feedings). During this time of day, they will sleep consecutively waking only for feedings and then go right back to sleep. During the day, they will stay awake for 45-90 minutes at a time, on average.

The last thing you want is for your baby to stay awake from 2:00 to 3:00 a.m., take a 1-hour “nap,” and then stay awake again from 4:00 to 5:00 a.m.

Therefore, you want to set your newborn’s bedtime to be late around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. That way, if they sleep 9 hours, it will be from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., for example. Be sure to put your newborn on a schedule based on their age in weeks.

Bedtime Routine for a Toddler and Newborn

If you have both a toddler and a newborn, the bedtime routines can be a bit more challenging depending on the age of your toddler.

If you have a 12-18-month-old and a newborn, your toddler might be too distracting and unable to be quiet while you put your newborn to bed. For that reason, I recommend you put your toddler to bed first and then your newborn later. If your newborn’s bedtime is still late, this should be easy to do. You can put your newborn in a sling or wrap if they are fussy and need to be held a lot. If your baby is content, you can consider putting them in a bouncer and give your toddler more individualized attention.

If you have a 2-year old or 3-year old, your toddler might be better able to help put the baby to bed if the time to put your newborn to bed has moved to earlier than your toddler’s bedtime. If this is the case, ask your toddler to help such as getting the diaper, helping with the baby massage, etc.

If both your toddler and newborn are going to bed around the same time, you can try combining the bedtime routines but you will need to allow for extra time (~30-60 minutes). Toddlers can delay things quite a bit. Here is a sample combined bedtime routine for a toddler and newborn:

Sample Bedtime Routine With a Toddler and Newborn

  1. Undress one child at a time and apply some lotion with lavender for calming comfort.
  2. With the lotion, do a little baby massage.
  3. Put on a clean diaper (if you are not doing Elimination Communication).
  4. Put on your baby’s onesie and pajamas for both.
  5. Place the baby in a bouncer and read books to both children (usually with your toddler in your lap so they can see the pictures).
  6. Have your toddler get in bed and turn on lullaby music and white noise.
  7. Swaddle your newborn safely and snugly.
  8. Feed and burp your baby while chatting with your toddler.
  9. Tell your toddler good night, turn off the light, and leave the room.
  10. Rock or sway the baby gently for a few minutes and lay them down on their back in their bassinet, bedside bassinet, or crib.
  11. Soothe them while in their bed, if necessary, to get them to fall the rest of the way to sleep.

I hope this post has given you all the tools you need to create the best bedtime routine for your family!

Newborn Baby Sleep Help That Works

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