Depending on your own personal preferences, the word routine can sound strict and boring or an essential for sanity. A bedtime routine established early on doesn't need to be either extreme and can make for a lovely time to spend with your child.
Children respond well to order if it's introduced early. Following the same process every evening means they understand what comes next and the predictability is comforting. Just as importantly for you, is a little baby free time when you can relax or catch up on all the chores you couldn't manage during the day.
Bath time A bath before bed is a great time to start your routine. Fill the bath with lots of bubbles, gently wash your child and as they get older they can play with some bath toys and gently splash about.
Massage After a big cuddle in a fluffy towel, my kids have always loved having a gentle massage. I just rub a little cream over their bodies.
Prepare the room Pull the curtains, turn the lights down low and make your child's bedroom feel calm. Playtime is over and this will get them in the right frame of time to wind down to sleep.
If they have problems sleeping when it's light, you could try a black out blind.
Story time Clean and dressed in a babygro or PJs is now the time to really wind down before bed. Curl up together and read a story or for young ones you can sing a lullaby while giving them their milk.
There are some great books that are perfect for bedtime for all ages. Why not try Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown for little ones. It's never too early to start reading books and the gentle rhythm of this story will relax any parent too.
For toddlers, you could try Night Monkey, Day Monkey by Julia Donaldson or Story Weather by Debi Gliori. Anything which finishes with everyone going to bed is ideal.
When your life is one hectic long series of jobs to get done and never enough time in the day, try to slow down at bedtime and really enjoy these moments with your kids.