Sleep, it’s literally the number one asked about and talked about subject among parents, that and how many poops they do in a day.
Sometimes in the first few months you feel like you will never sleep again or that your baby will never find a routine with going to bed but all that nighttime chaos doesn’t have to last forever. I’m not a fan (in any way) of sleep training or crying it out so you won’t find any of that here but I am a huge believer that babies (and older children) thrive off routine.
For the first 3 months, routine is not something your baby will be able to follow and you’ll find that for all your best efforts it just goes out the window for one reason or another but once they reach 12 weeks it’s the perfect time to start to build one.
I started getting Taya’s routine in place from 10 weeks, mainly so that I had time to get it right and make changes where we needed before she became old enough for it to start working for her and we’ve been following the same routine now for almost 2 months and it’s working brilliantly for her.
Taya’s bed time is 6pm but her bedtime routine actually starts from 4pm, this is her cut off for naps/sleep. If she’s taking a nap I will wake her at 4pm and if she’s showing signs of being tired around this time, I don’t put her down but instead would start to bring her routine forward so she can go to bed earlier.
Here’s how our routine works:
4pm – no more sleep from now until bedtime.
4pm-5pm – active and engaged floor play. Amelia is often still taking her afternoon nap at this time so I can give Taya my full attention. We get down on the floor with all her toys and play mats. She does tummy time, play gym, sit and play time and practices her rolling. I try to keep her completely engaged so she’s burning off all her energy ready to start winding down for bed.
5pm – nappy change and pjs on ready for bed after her last milk. Amelia typically gets up from her nap or gets home from nursery at this time so whilst she is having her dinner, Taya has her last bottle of milk.
5.30-6pm – cuddles or swing chair time as she’s often still a bit sick after her milk so rather than put her straight down to bed I let her sit upright for a little bit to let it settle. The swing chair helps to make her sleepy but Amelia is often making too much noise for her to actually fall asleep in it.
6pm – up to bed where I do the following, without fail:
- put her in her sleeping bag
- close the blinds and curtains to make it as dark as possible
- quick cuddle but do not let her fall asleep
- put her down in the cot awake – she often just smiles at me anyway so no chance of her falling asleep whilst I’m there
- white noise machine on, we have the penguin from The Gro Company so I use the light setting and the continious white noise with the cry detector on (this will listen for her making noise and turn the sounds back on to settle her over the next 3 hours)
- give dummy to help settle her whilst she is falling asleep
- turn on the light show on our video camera monitor, this plays stars on the ceiling which gives her something to focus on and she doesn’t seem to notice when I leave the room
That’s it, I close the door and go back downstairs. Sometimes it works a charm and she’s straight to sleep, sometimes she’s a bit unsettled and I end up having to go back in a couple of times to give her back to the dummy and if she’s really upset, another cuddle but she’s always awake when I put her back down, she’s just calmer.
You might be thinking that there’s no bath in this routine, that’s because at the moment she has her baths in the morning because doing Amelia’s dinner and Taya’s bedtime is more than enough to get done without adding a bath to the mix.
Typically once she is settled, even if I have had to pop in a couple of times, she will sleep through til 10-10.30pm when I go to bed and give her a change and a dream feed.
So that’s our current evening routine, I’m sure it will change as she gets older or when her development changes and she throws a spanner in the works but it’s working really well for everyone at the moment so I’m sticking with it.
Hope this has been helpful,