The Importance of a Bedtime Ritual
One of the best bits of advice I received when I was pregnant was to make the time before bedtime as predictable as possible. The theory is that a predictable series of events before bedtime is just what your baby needs to realize that it’s almost time for sleep. It’s supposed to be much better than just abruptly swooping up your baby and plopping him or her into the crib. Babies need a little notice before winding their little clocks down.
This has always worked well for us. Our ritual was the same for our son that it was for our daughter:
- Take a bath
- Read a story
- Say our prayers
- Go to sleep.
I usually use bathtime as a way for my babies to not only realize that bedtime is imminent, but also to allow them the means by which to work out any residual energy before heading to sleep. As my kids got a little older I allowed them to pick out the stories we read at night, and now they’re both at an age where they can recite their own prayers. The kids know that once the prayers are said, there’s no going back because it’s sleepy time.
When should you start a bedtime ritual? I’ve always had one with my kids, and it has always worked really well. My advice is to start developing a ritual as soon as possible, because the sooner your baby realizes that a certain series of events always leads up to sleep, the better off you’ll be.