A bedtime routine is something I think all families should have for their kiddos (and themselves too!). It is one of the easiest things you can do to help make bedtime run smoothly. I’m going to give you the run down for all things bedtime routine- what it is, when and how to implement one and I’ll also share some example bedtime routines at the end of the post. So everybody get your pjs on and your favorite lovey, we’re getting ready for bed!

The What and the Why

So first of all, what is a bedtime routine? I’m not talking about sleep training. More sleep hygeine. What I’m talking about is simply the things you do consistently leading up to bedtime each day. Some routines develop without even realizing it, but I’d encourage you to intentionally think about and plan for this time of day. Having a consistent bed time routine helps signal to your little one that it’s time for bed, which will hopefully help calm their body and mind in preparation. Many kids thrive on structure and routine. So having set routines in place for important times of day can help them feel comfortable and secure. There isn’t a set formula for creating a bedtime routine. The components and amount of time it takes are up to you!

Getting Started

First, I just want to say there is no one “right” bedtime routine. It’s all going to be about what works for your family and your little one. But I do have some thoughts on getting one in place.

Start early! I would encourage you to get started with your bedtime routine as soon as you can! Sure a newborn may not have a set bedtime when they’re still waking up every 2 hours. But go ahead and start to figure out what you might want that evening time to look like and practice it at whatever time feels most like bedtime.

Keep it Simple! Don’t feel like you need some elaborate, multi step routine to make it stick. Even just a couple consistent pieces can create a successful routine. For example, maybe you start with something as simple as: diaper change/pajamas, sound machine, swaddle, bed. You can always add things later on if you’d like, such as bath, reading books, teeth brushing etc.

Incorporate your partner. I would encourage you to include your partner into as much of your bedtime routine as possible. Especially in the newborn days, partners may not feel like they’re able to do as much. However, there are plenty of steps in the bedtime routine they can help with! They could get pajamas on, read a bedtime story, help with bath etc. None of these activities are mom specific, so ask them to step in. It not only helps them feel included but also provides a great bonding time for them and the baby.

When It’s Not Working Anymore

There is no reason your routine has to be set in stone for the long haul. Yes, you want consistency. So you don’t want to be changing it every few days- that wouldn’t create much of a routine would it? But if you’ve been working with the same routine for months and you find that it’s not working for you, change it! Perhaps your little one needs a longer time to wind down so you need to add something to it. Or maybe your little one is so tired by the end of the day that they need a truncated version of what you’ve been doing. Or your little one’s skin can’t handle a nightly bath anymore. No worries- whatever you need to do, do it!

Components of a Bedtime Routine

Looking for some ideas of what types of activities might be included in a bedtime routine? Check out this list below (included in no particular order):

  1. Reading books
  2. Bath
  3. Getting Pajamas On/Diaper Changes
  4. Rough and Tumble Play (One last bout of energy releasing play could be helpful to get them tired and ready for bed!)
  5. Getting into the Sleep Sack/Swaddle
  6. Turning on the Sound Machine/Night Light (if you use one)
  7. Feeding- bottle, nursing, or bedtime snack
  8. Singing Songs
  9. Turning out Lights/Closing Curtains
  10. Rocking/Bouncing/Snuggling
Three Sample Bedtime Routines

Sample 1 (my routine)

Bathtime- beginning about 30 minutes before bedtime, my husband does this part when he’s home.

Clean Diaper, Lotion and Pajamas

Sleep Sack

Turn on Sound Machine and Turn Off Lights

Nurse in Rocking Chair

Into the Crib for Bed

Sample 2

Bedtime Snack (can be good for toddlers- something high protein)

Rough and Tumble Play (think climbing/jumping/“wrestling”/chasing/sliding) Get the Giggles Out!

Bedtime Books

Pajamas/Sleep sack

Saying Goodnight to Special Toys

Goodnight Song


Sample 3

Bottle Feed


Bounce/Rock for a Few Minutes


**Yep- it can be that simple!

These are just three of infinite combinations! But hopefully they get you thinking about what combination of activities will be right for your family and your little one(s).

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