Are you ready? Because I’m about to tell you something that should cause you to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Your baby’s bedtime routine doesn’t have to be elaborate (or long!) in order to encourage your child to sleep well.

Last Updated Jan 13, 2021.

Before I go further, I should point out that this article will be especially useful to those who have already sleep trained. If you are still assisting your child to sleep in any way, your bedtime routine won’t have any influence on your child’s sleep. This is because the only thing they truly need in order to fall asleep is that assistance. (Assisted sleep means anything from giving them a paci, to co-sleeping, and everything in between.) Maybe you have taken the plunge and trained your little one to go down fully awake, and fall asleep 100% on their own in a crib. If this is you, let me shed a little light on what truly makes a difference in your baby’s bedtime routine. Ready?

the only four steps you need in your baby's bedtime routine

Photo Credit: Minnie Zhou

Baby’s Bedtime Routine Steps

#1 – Final Feeding First

How should we start baby’s bedtime routine? Make sure that your child’s final milk feeding is the very first part of their bedtime routine. Ideally this feeding should be done in a well-lit room. And, your child should stay entirely awake from the moment they start to feed until the moment they finish. It’s not sufficient to “wake them up a bit” at the end of their feed if they become drowsy while eating. They need to stay entirely awake from the start to the end of their feeding.

#2 – Keep It Short

Next, aim to have your baby’s bedtime routine (including feeding) take as close to 30 minutes or less as possible. If your routine is taking too much longer than that, it may be time to look into what you can jettison from your bedtime routine. Maybe you enjoy your longer bedtime routine? Know that it won’t harm your child in any way to have a lengthy routine. However, it may be a better idea to feed your child, then put them to bed quickly so as to not draw out bedtime any later than it needs to be. You’ll thank me for this when your baby is a toddler!

#3 – Keep It Simple

Know that all your child truly needs in their bedtime routine is:

  • a feeding
  • a clean diaper + jammies
  • a little love
  • and to be put right to bed

Books, songs, massages, and long cuddles are great! But they won’t make much difference in helping your baby sleep well. Also, don’t feel like it’s necessary to have quiet play time or low lights in an effort to “wind down” before bedtime. As long as the final feeding takes place within 30 minutes of bedtime, and you undertake the normal, soothing parts of bedtime (mentioned above), that will be more than enough for your child to go down easily. Remember, baby’s bedtime routine should be simple.

#4 – “5-Minute Soothing Technique”

This is a special Baby Sleep Trainer step to do right before you put baby in bed. You’ll want to aim to spend about five minutes or less (not more) getting your child to be calm and relaxed. Not sleepy or drowsy. Ideally you’d want your little one to go down calm and awake. Avoid any rocking or swaying movements you know will make your child go to sleep. Focus instead on calming and soothing movements that will help relax them.

If you’re ready to take your child’s sleep to the next level, check out my online training program!