Re: We want to establish a consistent bedtime routine. Where do we start?
Smart move. Performing the same series of activities night after night will signal baby that it’s time for sleep, and should help her go down more easily and sleep more soundly. Start with a bath, regardless of the dirt factor. Warm water is calming and that’s the point -- no need for an all-over scrub.
Back in the bedroom, turn the lights down a bit and sing or play soft music as you dry her off and put on her PJs. As you nurse her or give her a pre-bed bottle, try not to talk, or at least keep your voice very soft. Or, read a quiet bedtime story (tried and true: Goodnight Moon) before kissing her goodnight. Even though it might seem silly to read to a little baby, she understands more than you’d think (and just loves the sound of your voice). Repeat the story ritual night after night and she’ll start to learn that dreamland comes next.