When should I start my baby on a naptime and bedtime routine?

One of the most difficult parts of parenthood is the lack of sleep! While babies are not likely to be receptive to any type of routine until they are at least 6-8 weeks of age, it is never too early to start a naptime and bedtime ritual. Doing so will calm your baby and help him understand that the bedroom is a place to sleep. Because of this, it is best that the routine takes place in the bedroom rather than another location in the house. Start with a transition activity such as a bath or changing him into his pajamas. Next, try a calming activity that will help comfort your baby as well as give you the opportunity to connect (e.g., reading a book or giving your baby a massage). Lastly, choose a cue that will signal to your son that it is time to sleep (e.g., dimming the lights, playing special music, lying him down in the crib). In terms of how and when you put your baby to sleep (in other words, do you let him fall asleep at the breast, rock him to sleep, or put him in the crib drowsy and awake) there are many schools of thought and you need to choose the one that best fits your parenting philosophy and the needs of your child.  

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.