When our son was born, we established a bedtime routine, which we stuck to as closely as possible, even when we were away.
Birth to Just Over 2 Years
When it's bedtime, he says goodnight, and one of us takes him upstairs for a wash and to clean his teeth. Then we take him into his bedroom, change his nappy and put him in his pyjamas and sleeping bag. Once we're in his bedroom, everything is kept as calm as possible. We talk quietly, and he is encouraged to do the same. While we change him, he either has a book to look at, or a cuddly toy. Once he's changed and in his pyjamas, we ask him if he wants to put the book or cuddly toy away. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't, and we go with whichever he wants. If he doesn't want to put it away, he's allowed to keep it, though we don't read the book to him - he just holds onto it until he falls asleep. If he has a cuddly toy, he cuddles it while he goes to sleep. Once he's changed, we turn the lights off and close the curtains. We leave the bedroom door open a little, with the landing light on, so that there is some ambient light. When he was still taking milk, we'd give him a feed at this point. Finally, we cuddle him until he either falls asleep or is tired and relaxed enough to be put in his cot.
2 Years - ?
At just over 2 years old, we adapted the routine slightly. After changing his nappy, we read him a story, then he closes his curtains and gets into his cot. Sometimes he takes a book into his cot, and he usually takes a cuddly toy. We give him a kiss & cuddle, then say goodnight and leave. If he's taken a book into his cot, we go and retrieve it once he's asleep, but leave the cuddly toy.
After a while, we stopped him taking a book, because they got damaged. He now puts the book back on the shelf before getting into bed.
- Stroking his head helps him to fall asleep.
- If he tries to keep himself awake by scratching his face, I gently but firmly move his hand away, then stroke it gently with my hand.
- It's easier to get into a bedtime routine at a very early age, and keep to it, than it is to establish a routine when your baby is older.