The Importance of Routine

The wonderful time change.  Before parenthood, the time change may be something you looked forward to. A little extra daylight to enjoy time outside is definitely a perk. But now? Well, the time change is an annoying obstacle that messes up the beautiful routine that we, as parents, have carefully crafted over months and months of tweaking.

Sleep routines during the time change are so important to stick to! It would be easy to let your little babe stay up an hour later because that’s what time they’re used to going to sleep, but then you’ve got a baby who is up an hour later.  Kailyn and I are queens of routine. Here is what we have found to work with our little babes. Maybe something in this post will help you get your little one sleeping at night like a time change never even happened!

Amanda’s bedtime routine:

  • Background: W slept in our room until almost 6 months old. He slept in a cosleeper (made by my handy husband) that attached to the side of our bed. As for sleeping through the night, he’s been doing that consistently since he was about 4 months old. Before I went back to work (when he was 3 months old) we really let him take the lead with feedings, naps, and bedtime. He kind of got us into his own good routine and we created something a little more concrete off of that.
  • Bath time occurs every other night, typically before we sit down to eat dinner. Little homeboy gets a nice warm bath with some splash time built in. If there’s no bath time, the jammie portion of our routine occurs after dinner time. I clean up the kid from his messy dinner and change him from his street clothes to his cute jammies and sleep sack. Before throwing the jammies on, we use some lavender infused lotion for a quick little baby massage (nothing intense like some websites offer). It’s a fun time of funny faces and sweet sounds.
  • After the jammies have been put on, I hand off the little boy to his dad. They make their way to W’s bedroom for some rocking and a bedtime story. This is calm time— getting ready for some nice sleep by quietly reading a book and cuddling in the rocking chair. This is where my slightly crunchy mom side makes her appearance…
  • While story time occurs, I set up the essential oil diffuser in W’s room, adding a few drops of lavender oil to the diffuser and turn that on. I also fill up the cool mist humidifier that runs all night.
  • After dad finishes with cuddles and stories, I take my little homeboy back for some cuddles and pre-sleep nursing (if needed). We rock and cuddle for a few minutes until he’s ready to move to his bed or he falls asleep in my arms. I take this time to talk with him softly– thank God for the blessings of our day and pray for the day to come, whisper little words of love and encouragement. It’s our time together, special for the two of us. “Good night, man. I love you. Sleep well.” are my last words to him before I slip out the door quietly.
  • If the little boy wakes up after that, dad is sent up the stairs to console him and bribe him back to sleep. He has the magic touch that W needs to fall back asleep if he wakes up after bedtime.

Kailyn’s bedtime routine:

  • Background: For the first 4.5ish months or so, S slept in a Rock & Play in our room. This is such a spectacular baby purchase that you’ll probably hear nearly every parent mention. We started off with a Halo Bassinest I got secondhand. While it was a great concept in theory and very practical to have right next to the bed, especially through late-night nursing sessions, our babe was a spit up baby. Overall I felt way more comfortable with S sleeping on a small incline in the Rock & Play. I should note, before transitioning her from the Rock & Play in our room to her crib in her room we mostly based our routine off of what she needed. For the first few months, we mostly followed her cues as far as naps, especially, went. After transitioning her to her crib/own room, bedtime routine became rock solid. To this day, at 18 months, it still is. I honestly feel that this is what has saved our sanity overall. Even among the 8/9 month sleep regression from hell, where she was waking up every 2 hours like a newborn for almost 2 months, we still enforced our routine.. The bottom line is, you know your baby. So do what you feel is right, but at times we had to not waver.
  • Our routine starts about a half hour before bedtime. Bath has been our most important aspect of our routine. It calms her down. She’s been getting a bath every night since she was about 5 months old (again, spit-up-baby over here). While I know it’s apparently controversial or whatnot to ‘bath your baby every night,’ we do and we’ve never had a problem even with her sensitive skin.
  • Once she’s in fresh jammies we don’t allow her to run around or be very excitable anymore (crazy time happens right before bath, literally running circles with Dad around the living room. Dad is the expert tire-her-out go to). This has been very important to calming her little wild self down. We’ve always been pretty strict that bath and jammies equals “chill time.” We keep the lights low in her room. This is a calm time and we’ve wanted her to know from the beginning what’s about to go down.
  • Another MAJOR aspect of our routine is our sound machine. We have the MyBaby by Homedics Sound Machine and have since the beginning. We can only say good things about it and it’s worked for us. There’s also a neat travel sized one we used to keep in the diaper bag as well. I would clip it to the stroller on walks or in the car. Once we’re in her room for bedtime, the sound machine goes on. This is the clearest signal to her little brain that it’s time for bed. That Pavlov’s bell, so to speak, for all you Psychology nerds out there. I never knew the serious value of a sound machine before becoming a parent. She gets the pacifier at this point, too. With the sound machine on, we sit in the rocker and read or sing/hum and rock for a little bit.
  • While we don’t nurse anymore this was also our nursing time as well. Since actively sleep training during the time we transitioned her to the crib, I don’t/didn’t nurse her to sleep. That’s a different opinion post, but again, this worked for us. We have always put her down awake. She’s also a belly sleep and has been since she could roll over.

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Some other random unmentioned sleep-related products we have loved;

  • BreathableBaby Mesh crib liners – To calm the nervous mama when limbs start going through crib rails.
  • This WubbaNub saved our sanity in the early days as far as a sleeping baby went. S would cuddle the giraffe and use the pacifier to soothe herself to sleep. Cute and practical. Score.
  • We loved this Hudson Baby sleep sack when S started moving around, before she was standing. Zipper and lightweight.
  • Perusing, dog-earring, and underlining this book was helpful for Kailyn while pregnant, if you’re looking for a good read.

Sleep is the truly the most valued currency to any parent, and our mantra is definitely to do what works for you. If you’re a new parent in need of a routine or looking for some possible new ideas to resolve sleep struggles, we can only hope sharing what works for us might be some help to you! There is no specific answer or “must follow” routine when it comes to bedtime and sleep for little ones. Routines definitely help, but not every routine looks the same. It is all about what works best for you and your kiddo.

 

 

Photography provided by Nicole Watford at Nicole Watford Photography.

 

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