Bedtime Routine

“You’re not going to get any sleep when that baby arrives.”

One of the most common pieces of advice to new parents is to get the baby into a bedtime routine so that mum and dad can schedule in some sleep. Many different pieces of research from a spectrum of different child care areas have shown that having a routine is a very healthy thing for a child to have-in terms of education, behaviour and physical and mental health. In Behavioural Sleep Medicine, it is shown that parents who attend parenting classes or parent groups were much more likely to have an established bedtime routine by the age of 3 years than those who didn’t, so people who work with parents in these important days have a big part to play in a parent’s choice of implementing a bedtime routine at some point with their baby. All this left me with a question.


If you should have a bedtime routine for your child, when do you start it?

In a group of over 400 families all with sleep problems in their children, researchers gave half instructions of a basic time for bed, and the other half a specific routine. Introducing a bedtime routine resulted in much less behavioural problems in the children and much happier mums. The age of the child participants was over 7 months old-so problems with sleep had been identified.

But then, if it’s ‘supposed to be’ before 7 months when ‘normal’ children are in some sort of routine (the kids above all weren’t), when should you start thinking ‘ok, they should be in a routine now… I’ll go get help.” 2 weeks? 6 months? Ever?

Quote from Baby Centre:

When your baby is as young as six weeks or eight weeks old, you can start to follow a set pattern every night. Your baby will quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability. It will help her learn sleep habits that will stand you both in good stead for the future.”


What about attachment? Closeness? Isn’t this all just ‘Cry it out’? And what about baby staying in the same room with you until 6 months! SIDS, people!

Also, this sounds much more like scheduling than routine. They’ve worded it like what I feel routine means – doing the sort of same stuff in around the same order about the same time to help someone predict and get ready for what happens next – but they mean scheduling – forcing things to happen at the exact same time in the exact same order to force someone to act a certain way. Are 6 weeks olds supposed to know anything other than how cuddles feel, how to get milk, how to vomit, and need-clean-bum-now-have-clean-bum feelings?

What happened to baby led care – something that DOES set children up well for the future #theresafutureblogpost.


Some questions for readers to ignore completely.

What should parent practitioners be telling parents about Bedtime routines?

What age should started implementing a bedtime routine?

Should you implement one at all?

Should you ever ignore the routine for a family party or event?

Can the routine change between carers?

Does it change with subsequent children?

I honestly don’t know. If you are a parent going through sleep issues with your children, I apologise for having no answers! All I can tell you is what I did:

I found out about co sleeping #theresanotherfuturepost.

If you want to find out about co sleeping, this is an amazing website:

Behavioral Sleep Medicine (Volume 9, Issue 4, 2011 pages 237-242) Parenting Services May Be an Opportunity for Improving Bedtime Routines Among At-Risk Preschoolers (Anne Martina, R. Gabriela Barajasa, Jeanne Brooks-Gunna & Lauren Hale) (accessed 01/12/13)

A Nightly Bedtime Routine: Impact on Sleep in Young Children and Maternal Mood (2009)

Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, Lorena S. Telofski, BA, Benjamin Wiegand, PhD and Ellen S. Kurtz, PhD accessed 01/12/13

2 thoughts on “Bedtime Routine

  1. Couldn’t agree more! My lo had her tt cut at 10 weeks, having pretty much self-diagnosed after GP said there was no tt at 6 week check. Feeding had been horrendously painful for me, though thankfully lo had been gaining ok. We’re still going strong now at 10.5 months and I’m training to be a peer supporter. As an aside, I’d say at least half of the new mum friends I’ve made were affected by tt!

    1. It is astoundingly common, and the frequency in which it is ignored by many health professionals is often just as common. I hope you do well on your journey as a peer supporter! It is very worthwhile, and it is so important for us to have mothers whom have gone through things like TT to be in our ranks, helping the next lot of mothers along the way.

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