Using a pre-sleep routine to get your baby to sleep

How to establish your own pre-sleep routine, plus the pros and cons of this baby settling method.

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You can try a pre-sleep routine with your baby from birth. A pre-sleep routine can be used in conjunction with other methods of getting your baby to sleep such as pick up, put down (suitable from birth), controlled comforting (suitable from 6 months) and controlled crying (also suitable from 6 months). However, sometimes a pre-sleep routine is enough in itself.

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How to start a pre-sleep routine

STEP 1: Signpost bedtime by telling your baby it’s time for bed.

STEP 2: Give her a bath, feed and story. You don’t have to do all three but it helps, and always do them in the same order.

STEP 3: Put her to bed in her cot. She needs to associate it with sleep so she knows what bedtime means.

STEP 4: When she wakes for a feed, keep it boring. Dim the lights, don’t play or chat and only change her nappy if really necessary.

Positives of a pre-sleep routine

  • It’s emotionally neutral so is less tiring.
  • It doesn’t require any planning.

Downside of a pre-sleep routine

  • It ties you down each evening so you have less flexibility in your own life.
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Other things you can do to get your baby to sleep

  • Ignore the idea of a set routine and bedtime and only put your baby to bed when she’s properly tired.
  • Rock your baby to sleep but shorten the length of the rocking each night.
  • Drop the expectation of your baby sleeping through and allow her to nap – but take naps yourself at the same time.

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