Night Time Routine
Any article you read will recommend getting your baby into a routine. Whether it’s a feeding schedule or a nap schedule, a routine is very important. I have read plenty about when I should put my baby to bed at night, when to wake them up, etc.… However, I don’t read a lot about what these routines should entail. Below I have outlined the routine my daughter and I try to stick to every night. It’s the part of my day that I look forward to the most! We spend quality time together, and she understands that it is leading to bed time, even at 8 months old!
When is bed time?
Bedtime in our house is between 7 and 7:15 for my 10-month-old daughter. That means we start the whole routine at 6 P.M. almost every day. Dinner is usually between 5 and 6 P.M. and is a good precursor to the bedtime routine.
How do we start?
At 6 P.M. we go to my daughter’s bedroom. This is where most of her toys are. First thing on the list is turn on our Amazon echo dot and ask her to play our Disney music playlist! We throw balls, we climb everything, we scream into plastic cups, and mostly we practice walking. It’s important to try and keep her active and playing if possible, because I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, babies can get cranky close to bed time. A baby having fun, usually isn’t crying on the floor, “usually”.
The exception to the 6 o’clock playtime is bath night, but we can get to that later. The best part of this time is that I get to have face to face playtime with my daughter and it’s a very important part of my day, and not just my daughter’s. Anyone working a 9-5 type of job knows you get very limited awake time with baby, so 6 P.M. bedtime routine is Dad’s time to shine in my case.
Preparing your little one for bed
So, what comes after playing? It’s time to get ready for bed of course! Around 6:40 P.M. I start getting my daughter ready for bed. Keep in mind this doesn’t end play time, it just hinders it for a few minutes. I set out her Diaper, A&D diaper cream, her Baby Magic Lotion and of course her sleeper. A&D has helped us prevent diaper rash almost completely, we started using it daily around 4 months of age and are still going strong, just apply a small fingertip worth every night! We also apply baby lotion every night to prevent dryness. Note, do not apply lotion to the face, hands, head or anything the diaper covers. We use Baby Magic lotion because our Dr. directly recommended it.
I strongly recommend starting this process about 20 minutes before bedtime/Feeding time. In our case, changing our daughters’ diaper right before we put her down wakes her up completely. Doing it 20 minutes in advance seems to smooth the transition. This whole process only takes about 5 minutes, and we continue to play for a little after. Those 5 minutes are usually enough to make her cranky, so playing a little after calms her down and makes bedtime much easier.
Preparing the room
About 5 minutes before bedtime, which is around 6:55 for us we start preparing her bedroom. First thing we do is clean up all her toys. We have noticed that when the toys are left out, she can become distracted when first falling asleep or when she wakes in the middle of the night. Anything that might stop her from falling asleep needs put away. After all the toys are put away, we change our amazon echo dot from Disney songs to our daughter’s lullaby playlist. Finally, I fill up her humidifier to prevent dry skin and chapped lips.
At 7:00 P.M. it’s story time. Every night we pick two books or one longer book. We try to let our daughter decide which book she wants, most nights during play time she fixates on a book, so we put that one aside for bedtime. If you don’t have a spot already, you should pick a designated spot for your bedtime story. It’s important to try and differentiate the bedtime story from your normal book readings throughout the day. Story time is a personal favorite of mine, and something I love doing every night. We can read in silly voices, and find pictures on the pages, and really interact with each other. She knows that story time comes right before being fed by my wife so most nights she is pumped about it.
Nearing the end of story time, we brush my daughters’ teeth/gums. First you start with just water on the toothbrush and gently brush their gums. After they have teeth you can move on to using toothpaste. You can use children’s toothpaste way earlier than most parents realize. You start off with only the size of a grain of rice evenly spread out across the toothbrush. If you are skeptical about brushing too early, just do a little research and I’m sure you will be comforted like we were!
It’s finally Bedtime /Feeding time
My wife exclusively breastfeeds. Which means after all our bedtime routines are over, she is at bat. She gets situated in her rocker/recliner, and I hand her everything she needs like her blanket, boppy, and phone. I tell my daughter goodnight and hand her to my wife. Then I sneak out of the room like a ninja and turn off the lights in passing.
Bath night is the exception to our normal routine. At our daughters age we do bath night every 3rd night. It doesn’t change our nightly routine by a ton but does alter it slightly. Bath time starts at 6 P.M. and usually only last 10 to 15 minutes. Luckily our daughter absolutely loves bath night, so it’s a fun experience. Pre-bath dinner changes, but only because we give her messier foods or something to play in, knowing we are about to bathe her. Post bath, jumps right back into the normal routine, play time is just started slightly later.
During Bath time, my wife usually sits in the tub and I sit next to it. We stopped using a baby bath tub around 6 months of age, because it became a hassle and caused more issues than solutions. Having two sets of hands is extremely beneficial during this process. Slippery babies can be extremely difficult to wrangle and wash at the same time! Make sure you wash Their body thoroughly and get all the shampoo out of their hair to prevent dandruff or dry skin. We do all the washing first, then let her splash around and play at the end.
Bath time ends after 10 to 15 minutes because the water starts to cool off. It’s important to have a towel ready to go by the bathtub to prevent her from getting too cold. Don’t forget to dry their ears and necks! Once bath time is over, we usually only put on a diaper (depending on the temperature in the house) until it’s time to get baby ready for bed. No reason to make her cranky twice! One final thing we do at the end of bath time, is weigh our daughter, since we do bath night every 3 days it’s fun to see if she’s gained any weight!
Why is this routine so important?
Night time routine is a great way to experience quality daddy baby time. Especially if your significant other is breastfeeding. As dads, we don’t get much 1 on 1 time, or individual responsibilities. While sometimes it’s nice to relax, you don’t want to miss out on little moments. My daughter actively looks and yells for me if I’m not in the room during that time. She gets confused why my wife is dressing her. It feels good to know that my daughter not only wants me there but expects me there.
We enjoy our night time routine greatly, and it’s a good way for me to unwind for the day. Without our nighttime routine I wouldn’t experience a lot of the little joys I get to see. I get to see all phases, the happy play time, the leave me alone crankiness when I’m dressing her, and the temper tantrum meltdowns because I stopped her from chewing on a book. I see all parts of her day in a short period of time, and it makes me feel like I’m not missing out on experiences while I’m at work. My night time routine precious to me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.