When to do it?
A warm bath around an hour before bed is the best time to have it. This is down to body temperature influencing the regulation of our babies’ sleep/wake cycles. A warm bath increases blood flow, which is known to aid the natural circadian process, which helps our babies to fall asleep quicker and for longer. Lots of families I work with will have the bath in the last half hour before sleep, however, this isn’t the optimal time.
When to not do it
If your baby has had short naps or is particularly tired, prioritise the early night rather than fitting a bath in. When your little one has a day when naps have gone out the window for example it’s best to keep the bedtime routine short, calm and get them down as quickly as possible.
Build in plenty of time for the bedtime feed after the bath
I advise having your baby out of the bath, dressed and ready to feed around 45 minutes before you would be putting them down in the crib/cot. This leaves a good amount of time for your baby to take a full feed before bed. This is what we want – for our little ones to really “tank up” before bed so that we can reasonably expect some long stretches of sleep at night.
I often see in my practice parents offering a milk feed immediately before bed in the last 10 minutes or so when the baby is likely to be very tired and therefore will only have energy to take a little bit of milk before falling asleep, often on the feed. This is when you may well get a hunger wake in the first couple of hours as they won’t have taken a full feed before bed.