5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of a Bedtime Routine

baby's bedtime bedtime routine bedtime tips sleeping through the night Aug 12, 2021
5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of a Bedtime Routine
There is so much research out there relating to your baby's sleep that it can become overwhelming, to say the least.  But, there is one thing that is always consistently beneficial; a bedtime routine. 

It has been scientifically proven that a bedtime routine will not only improve your baby’s sleep habits but also their overall wellbeing [1].  Why not invest in that?

The Importance of a Bedtime Routine for Babies

Have you ever had a rough night of sleep (or lack thereof), and in turn had a rough next day? Of course you have, you’re human!  

This may go without saying, but getting a good night's rest is essential for everyone in the family, especially our little ones.  And when our kids sleep better, we sleep better!  Win-win! 

It may seem simple, but one way you can help ensure that your baby is going to get the much-needed sleep they need is by implementing a bedtime routine.  

Bedtime routines have been proven to be a key component to healthy sleep [2], and when implemented correctly, can completely transform your baby’s sleep within as little as two weeks [3].  I don’t know about you, but as a busy mom, I know I could use some extra rest and if something as simple as having a consistent nightly routine is going to help, you bet I’m going to try it!

But how do you implement a routine that is sure to benefit both you and your baby?

If you’re overwhelmed by this thought, please know you are not alone. I have helped countless parents with my baby sleep guides all looking for the answer to this same question. 

My Recommended Bedtime Routine + The Science Behind It

There are countless routines you could choose to implement, but this is the one that I stand behind.  Each component serves a different purpose which leads to so many different benefits.  Try it out!

Before you begin this routine, be sure to follow this rule: 1 hour before bedtime, turn off the TV, put the screens away, and enjoy some quiet play. Then, take 20-40 minutes to follow these steps:

  1. Warm bath: Bathing promotes a good night’s sleep for your baby by lowering their core temperature [4].  It is also considered “sensory play” which has many benefits of its own!  Not only is it a great tool for sleep onset, but it also goes beyond that! Implementing a nightly bath is one way that you can teach your child hygiene and self-care from a young age.  Also, bathing helps create skin-barrier functions that will aid in hydration, temperature regulation, and protection against infection [5].  Who knew that our little ones would benefit so much from an activity they will most likely enjoy? Are you worried your little one gets too excited or plays too much during bath time? Don’t be! Babies and toddlers rarely relax in the tub, but bath time is still doing its magic.
  2. Massage: After giving your baby a warm bath, give them a little pamper session with a massage.  Massage has been proven to result in fewer nightly wakings [6], as well as a positive outcome for both you and your baby.  This physical contact between you and your little one decreases cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine [7], ensuring a happier mood for your baby and less stress [8] for you as the parent.  I could honestly go on for hours about the benefits of implementing a massage into your baby’s bedtime routine, but the main takeaway here is that this activity provides an opportunity for positive interaction, increasing bonding and a positive attachment [9] between you and your baby.
  3. Pajamas: This may seem like an obvious step in the routine, but changing your baby into a fresh, cozy set of pj’s before bed is one sure way to set the tone for bedtime and help them feel more relaxed - which is exactly what we’re going for here!  If you’re unsure of how to dress your baby for sleep, follow me on Instagram for more tips relating to this!
  4. Feeding: For babies 12 months and under, implementing their last feeding of the day into their nightly routine can be another sleep promoter [10].  However, you want to be making sure that your baby is getting full feedings throughout the entire day, as this last feeding is just one piece of the puzzle!  Also, please note that you may want to keep this step of the routine from being too close to the time that you’re laying your baby down as this could develop into a difficult sleep association [11].  
  5. Read books and/or sing songs: You’re probably already aware of the positive impact reading to your child can have on their early brain development [12], as well as the fact that it creates a long-term interest in reading [13] for your child.  It’s also worth mentioning though, that parents and children that read or sing together as part of a nightly routine are more likely to have a bedtime, leading to an increase in sleep duration [14]
  6. Into the crib (awake): The last step of the routine (and possibly one of the most important) is laying your baby down - awake!  You may be thinking that it makes sense to lay your baby down drowsy, but this is simply not the case.  If your baby is drowsy and then suddenly wakes up when you go to lay them down, they can treat it as if they’ve just had a power nap, and then you’re back to square one!  Instead, lay them down wide awake and let them put themselves to sleep.  It may seem difficult at first, but with consistency, they will get there!  Once they learn this skill, this can also aid in consolidating night sleep resulting in fewer night wakings as your baby will be more likely to know how to put themselves back to sleep, without your help.

The Benefits of a Nightly Routine

After taking the steps to implement my recommended bedtime routine, here are 5 benefits you can expect to see with your little one:

  • Fall asleep faster
  • Stay asleep longer
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improved mood (for both baby and you!)
  • Increased parent-child bond
  • Learning to sleep through the night over time

As a parent or caregiver, your sleep and mood are just as important as your little one’s. No change is going to happen overnight. But with consistency [15], you set your child up for success which results in your own mood being impacted - in a positive way!

If you find yourself still struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides or schedule a call with me for some personalized support. 


Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!


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