Babies and children love patterns. To know what is coming next makes them feel secure and safe. Babies thrive on routine and using sleep signs during their pre-nap or pre-bedtime routine can help get their body and mind ready to sleep.
When to introduce a routine?
To be honest you can start introducing your baby to a gentle routine from the word go. When you start seeing those sleepy signs during the day, use the same phrase each time to indicate to your baby that it is nearly time for sleep. A pre-sleep routine doesn’t need to be long but it allows for a bit of wind down time before sleep.
You can then use a similar routine for bedtime, but by making it slightly longer with adding elements such as bath, massage, milk.
Before bed I also suggest the first step of the routine is to close all the curtains around the house and to dim the lights - this will give your baby a big clue that it is nearly time for sleep time, but will also calm their nervous systems.
The key is to be consistent with your routine and to try to do the things in the same order. Your little one will love this!
Do I need to wake my baby up at the same time each morning?
It is totally up to you. If you need to be out of the house at a certain time, then having that structure is good. I always suggest at around 9 weeks, when your little one has started to produce Melatonin and their Circadian Rhythm (internal body clock) is starting to develop, waking your baby up around the same time each morning (give or take 15 minutes) can help with the day and night confusion but also with the routine of the day.
Try not to let your baby get overtired - watch out for your baby’s sleep cues and wake windows.
Expose babies to indirect sunlight, especially in the mornings. This will help with the day and night confusion.
A newborn's bedtime is normally much later (around 10pm / 11pm).
A bath is not needed every night when they are little.