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The Best Bedtime Routine for a 6 Month Old

We got together with some family last weekend, and everyone commented on what a good sleeper we have…


-“Is he asleep already?”


-“Wait, you put him down awake?”


-”He puts himself to sleep?...He’s only 6 months old!”'

YOU can have this too!


We use the same bedtime routine every night and once that sound machine turns on, as we head over to flip off the lights, our 6 month old son nestles into my shoulder cuddling in for our song and prayer. He knows what comes next, and he is ready to be laid down for sleep!


Having a predictable and consistent bedtime routine is one of the most important aspects of a healthy sleep foundation.


Babies (yes, even as young as 6 months old) thrive on routine! Week to week and month to month everything is changing around them, whether it be their daily routine, wake windows, mobility, etc. A predictable bedtime routine can be a dependable part of their day amidst these ongoing changes.


To promote health and to prevent and manage sleep problems, “the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents start promoting good sleep hygiene, with a sleep-promoting environment and a bedtime routine in infancy, and throughout childhood.” 


The following bedtime routine includes all of those components! It also allows an opportunity for your child to practice falling asleep independently.


  • Full feeding

  • Bath (not necessary every night) or a quick wipe down

  • Lotion

  • Fresh diaper, pajamas, and sleep sack on

  • Read book(s)

  • White noise on and lights off

  • Kisses/cuddles/prayers/song

  • Key phrase and into bed awake


Full feeding

Do your best to keep your child awake during this part of the routine. Often, babies who are having trouble with sleep are dependent on feeding to sleep. Many families find that moving the last bottle or breast-feed to the beginning of the routine is key in helping their children not be reliant on sucking to sleep and then needing that same assistance to return to sleep in the middle of the night.


By six months it is also helpful to put the feeding at the beginning of the bedtime routine to prevent any sort of gas or reflux discomfort upon laying your baby in their crib for sleep.


Bath 

Hygiene is an important part of anyone’s day, including your little one! And taking a warm bath before bed can help them fall asleep and improve their sleep quality. While in the bath, your baby’s temperature rises. Once you get them out, it naturally cools down. This speeds up the release of sleep hormones! However, though you will bathe your six-month-old baby some nights, it doesn’t have to be every night.


If you opt not to bath them that night, be sure to at least give your baby a good wipe down so they can drift to sleep fresh and clean. Wash/wipe their hands, face, and neck and move on to the next step of the routine.


Lotion

While you apply lotion to your baby, give them a gentle massage. As you do this you are stimulating your child's vagus nerve and this can also help them sleep better.


Dress for bed

A fresh diaper and clean pajamas are a must! 


You don’t want your child bringing all the allergens and things they may have picked up throughout the day into their crib and changing their diaper means that one more need of theirs is met before you lay them down.


A sleep sack or a wearable blanket keeps your baby warm and safe. At six months old, some of our favorites include the Zipadee Zip or Kyte Baby sleep sack.


Read book(s)

Reading fosters so many aspects of your child’s growth and development! Implement reading with your baby early and read to them often.


This should be a time of connection and enjoyment between you and your child.


White noise on and lights off

These environmental cues remind your child its time for sleep. Additionally, they assist them in falling and staying asleep.


To learn more about why darkness matters check out our blog post here!


Kisses/cuddles/prayers/song

Physical touch such as offering a snuggle, hug and/or kiss lets your baby know you love them and fills up their cup!


And a routine song or prayer included before bedtime is another sweet part of the bedtime routine that has many developmental benefits



Key phrase and into crib awake

Saying a key phrase before and as you lay your 6 month old down is the final cue that it is time for bed. Something simply, such as, “It’s night-night time” or “Goodnight _____ (child’s name), it's time for sleep” or “I love you, good night.” Whatever it is, pick your phrase and use it every time you put your child down to sleep.


Did any of this seem hard to picture? Maybe putting them down awake feels daunting or unmanageable?


You don’t have to do it alone; we can coach you through it! If you want professional guidance or a hand to hold through this process, a sleep bestie in your back pocket, I invite you to learn more about our services here, or set up a call with Erin. She’d love to chat with you about your goals for your child and how we can achieve them, together.


Did a part of this routine not feel like you?...that’s okay! At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there's lotion or no lotion, What matters is that you use a consistent set of steps before bed that cue your child’s brain and body that it’s time to sleep. 


For more on bedtime routines and helping your child sleep better, check out our podcast!

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