A newborn baby does not usually have a specific sleep pattern, but around 4 months of age, sleep tends to become more structured. Then it may be time to create a sleep routine that signals to the baby that it is time to sleep. This usually creates better conditions for good sleep both during the day and at night.
One of the biggest challenges for many parents is finding a good sleep routine for their baby. A big part of good routines is understanding your baby's signals and then creating routines based on them. A newborn baby has no circadian rhythm, but at around four months of age, babies begin to distinguish between day and night. Perhaps it is only then that you, as a parent, begin to interpret a pattern in your child's sleep. This is a good time to establish sleep routines and try to follow set times.
The reason why routines are so good for young children is that they do not logically understand what should happen next, such as that it is time to sleep (even though they are tired). Routines help create security and signal to the baby what to expect.
Sleep routine for babies at night
The most important thing is not what the evening and bedtime routine looks like, but rather that it exists. What you choose to do should fit your life situation and doesn't have to look a certain way. It's also good to try to get your baby to fall asleep at about the same time every night, as this is also a signal for bedtime. Having said that, we would like to give a suggestion on how to set up a bedtime routine can look like:
Eating dinner/porridge, dimming the lights, removing toys, bathing, giving a massage, changing a diaper, putting on pajamas, reading a book, playing music or white noise, breastfeeding or drinking a bottle.
Choose about four things that you always do. This can help on those occasions when, for example, you are not at home and the environment is not what baby is used to. Then the bedtime routine can allow for flexibility for both parents and baby, as the very pattern of repetition signals that it is time to sleep.
Daytime sleep routine
With a good daytime sleep routine, sleep can be more stable and hopefully baby will sleep better at night. The daytime sleep routine doesn't necessarily have to look the same as the nighttime routine, but it can be helpful to pick a few things that signal to baby that it's time to sleep. Maybe it's going for a walk with the stroller, listening to a certain music or rocking while breastfeeding/bottle feeding. Try out what works best.
A big part of promoting better sleep is also making sure the baby is full, has a dry diaper, and sleeps in a dark and cool room.
Remember: Routines are good and important, but few parents find that sleep is consistently good. Try to let go of both prestige and expectations about sleep, because there is no given template, all babies are different. There will probably be periods of poor sleep - and that's normal. Trying to make your baby happy makes you the best parent!
Here are sleep coach Hanna Bergenkull's top tips for children's sleep.