One of the best ways to help ensure little ones (and mom and dad!) get a good night's sleep is to establish a consistent bedtime routine. This helps to make the daytime to nighttime transition seamless while also helping baby know what to expect next. A comfortable and secure baby is a better sleeping baby!
Sooner is definitely better than later when it comes to establishing a bedtime routine with baby. According to BabyCenter "When your baby is as young as 6 or 8 weeks old, start following a set pattern every night. She'll quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability." (source) Follow these below tips and get started on creating your own unique routine right away.
Watch for baby's sleepiness cues and use those as the starting point for your routine. If baby consistently starts to doze off around 7:00 pm each night, plan to start your routine by at least 6:45 pm each night (or earlier, depending on how involved your routine is). Don't fight baby's natural tendencies; use them to your advantage!
The consistency of your routine is much more important than the "what" of your routine. You don't need to squeeze in a bath, a massage, listening to quiet music, cuddles in a glider, a favorite book, and saying goodnight to each stuffed animal to have a perfect bedtime routine. Maybe what works best for your family is dressing your baby in their comfy Tealbee sleepsack followed by some special cuddle time, a good book, and a song. Well, then that's the perfect routine for your baby! Now repeat that every night.
Be prepared for bumps along the way, especially as baby grows. As Parents.com says, "as your child gets older, you will experience more woes that accompany bedtime. Every child has her hang-ups when it comes to the bedtime routine: Whether it be stalling for more time reading, not wanting to brush her teeth, or complaining about her pajamas. The best way to deal with these problems is to simply know they are coming. By anticipating her protest, you will be able to maneuver around it smoothly in a manner that suits your child best." (source)
Use a similar, albeit shorter, routine for daytime naps. What To Expect recommends that you "take advantage of the sleep cues your baby knows and incorporate them into her before-nap pattern. While you probably don’t want to take the time or the effort to do a major bath or full-body massage, you may very well want to read a story or two or sing a song to help your cutie transition to naptime more easily." (source)
The bedtime routine you establish with baby will become a special, favorite part of each day. It will help you bond and will build cherished memories for you both.