Wondering if bath time will help your baby sleep? Read our tips and create your own baby bath time routine for newborn and beyond!
Does my baby need a bedtime routine?
We humans are creatures of habit, so having a routine can be really beneficial for some, no matter how old we are. A routine helps us to feel safe and secure, and allows us to plan events and activities properly. And when it comes to bedtime, a routine is crucial!
We spoke to Karen Langston, baby expert and sleep coach for Koala & Joe, a new platform for helping parents find and book trusted experts. Read on to discover her top tips for helping baby settle into a routine.
Should a bath be part of baby’s routine?
“Bathtime can be something a lot of parents worry about, especially in the early weeks,” Karen told us.
“And some babies can be really unsettled in the bath. Here are some tips for a successful bathtime:
- Make sure the bathroom is nice and warm before undressing baby.
- Get everything you will need ready before you put baby in the bath.
- Always check the water temperature isn’t too hot.
- If baby cries when you put them into the water try popping a washcloth over their chest and tummy, this will help them feel warm and secure .
- Singing a little song as baby goes into the bath and out of the bath can help reassure them.”
Very tiny babies really don’t need a bath every single night, but lots of families choose to make this a central part of their routine every day. If you’re wondering how often you should bath your baby, check out our post for more information.
When do babies sleep through the night?
The quest for a full night’s sleep is age-old, and every new parent dreams of the day this will finally happen. But did you know that according to experts, a baby is ‘sleeping through’ when they manage a stint of just 5 consecutive hours? So your baby may already be sleeping through!
Our advice? We’re all different. Some babies sleep for longer periods than others. But the fact remains that very tiny babies will always wake up for food at regular intervals, and that is completely normal- and, in fact, crucial for survival. Your baby will ‘sleep through the night’ eventually, we just cannot say when!
How important is a bedtime routine for babies?
If you know that your baby becomes unsettled easily, a routine is probably going to help quite a lot. If your baby is more relaxed and easy going, you might get away with a more flexible approach. But for so many parents, it seems that having some kind of a routine at the end of the day can help the entire family settle down and get ready for bed- not just baby! We need to wind down too.
Will a bath help my baby sleep?
Naturally, we’re huge advocates for ending the day with bathtime, but there are so many reasons why it’s one of the best ways to help your baby sleep.
Bathtime is a calming sensory experience
Bath time is an amazing whole body sensory experience for babies. It’s a wonderful way for parents to slow down a little, to focus on their baby, the warm water and perhaps even the sound of relaxing music to set the scene.
Bath temperature helps to establish sleep cycles
“Newborns are heat sensitive so keep the water on the cooler side, as if the water is too warm baby might get too sleepy which could impact their bedtime feed- and we want their last feed before bed to be effective.”
And did you know that getting out of the tub also holds the key to a better night's sleep for babies?
When you take baby out of the bath, their body temperature drops quite quickly. This helps to ready the body for sleep, as the change in temperature actually convinces the body that it is now nighttime, and therefore time to sleep. Pretty clever, huh?
It's important not to let the temperature drop too far though, as very new babies cannot regulate their body temperature at all. That's why its always a good idea to have a towel ready to wrap them up in so that they don't get too cold. Luckily the handsfree towel was created for this very purpose!
Karen also recommends trying a little baby massage to further help relax and soothe your baby after the bath:
“After bathtime, try offering a massage to your baby, your baby will be nice and relaxed (and hopefully you will too). It’s such a lovely way to bond with your baby and get them ready for sleep.”
Read more about how to get started with baby massage and how it can help baby sleep in our post.
Building positive sleep associations
“Giving baby bathtime as part of their bedtime routine can help your baby to recognise that bedtime/night-time is coming. It is also relaxing for your baby so it can be a soothing tool to help settle them at bedtime. “
How soon can I introduce a bedtime routine?
So, when is the right time to introduce a bedtime routine? It totally depends on your baby. As already mentioned, some are more susceptible to settling into a fixed routine early on, and others will flourish better if you can be more flexible. The key is to think if your routine as less of a set schedule and more of a ‘flexible order of events’.
What this means is, you can start your bedtime routine from the very moment your baby comes home from the hospital- introducing the same events in the same order each night- for example, bath, feed, bed-, but keeping the timings flexible depending on your baby’s mood etc.
As your baby gets older, you can start to move this routine into more of a structured timetable, with the same events happening in the same order, at the same time. But stay flexible with it, as your baby might not slot into your plans easily at first. Most experts agree that some babies can be as old as 9-12 months before a ‘proper’ routine is established.
How can I help my baby learn night and day?
Baby awake during the night, then sleeping the day away? Don’t panic. Karen shared her top tips with us:
“Remember babies are born nocturnal as they have had no light in the womb so they need your support to help them learn the difference between night and day and for their circadian rhythm to set in. It is common for babies to actually experience day and night reversal for the first few weeks.
However, you can help improve this by:
- Giving them their morning feed in natural day light (roll up those blinds!)
- Offer day sleep in natural day light.
- Take them outside for a walk for fresh air daily.
- Keep daytime feeds interactive.
Then during then night:
- Keep the lights dim and noise down.
- Avoid over stimulating - keep your voice in hushed low tones.
- Swaddle baby, this can help with sleep.
- Play white noise whilst baby is falling asleep and whilst asleep, this can help them settle and prevent them from waking up to sudden sounds.”