Here’s some ideas for peaceful evenings with your baby

Being awake in the evening is normal for most babies in the first weeks and sometimes longer, but you can encourage an earlier settling time, if you want to, once your baby is beyond the newborn stage.

Try from the age of about three months, or sooner if you feel your baby is already feeding and sleeping to a routine you feel comfortable with. If it doesn’t work then, and you feel your baby is unhappy at being expected to settle to sleep in the evenings, then try again later when he’s a little older.

keep to a routine

If you’re consistent, and do the same things in the same order, every night, at roughly the same time, your baby will come to expect them and to learn that settling down is warm, cosy and soothing.

Note these are only ideas, and you may want to adapt them, or the timings, to suit your family’s life and your preferences.

  • at about five or six, feed your baby. A baby who’s older and on solid food could have his tea at this time, or a snack
  • start to help your baby wind down by having a few moments playing quietly with him, or singing to him
  • get things ready for his bath and talk about what you’re doing
  • bath him, and make it fun for him, without too much excitement. If you have an older toddler, bath them together if it’s easier, but take the baby out first so he can have some cuddling time on your knee to calm down. Dry him and dress him
  • if your house is quiet, you can take your baby downstairs . If it’s noisy downstairs, go to your baby’s room for this
  • talk, look at a book, sing, and have a quiet time
  • give a last breast or bottle feed
  • put your baby in his cot and say goodnight

Young babies may want to have the milk feed without the talking, singing, reading. They may be ready for sleep then. Do what keeps your baby calm and soothed.

safety & comfort

Make sure your baby’s room is warm without being too hot. His bedding shouldn’t make him sweaty or uncomfortable. Remember the safety rules about putting a young baby on his back to sleep, and placing his feet towards the foot of the cot. Older babies may get out of this position by themselves, rolling on to their fronts or wriggling up the bed. You don’t need to worry – if they can move this much, it means they can move to avoid getting too hot, which is the main reason for the safety guidance.

© Heather Welford

Heather Welford is a writer and journalist who specialises in issues to do with child care, health and family life. She has written many books on these topics, and writes widely for magazines, newspapers and the Web. She has three children, and lives in the North East of England.