Routines are for Babies: Why You Shouldn’t Stress About the Bedtime Routine
ROUTINE ROUTINE ROUTINE
After my son was born and sleep became a commodity I began combing the internet for tips and tricks to get my baby to sleep better. Everything I read eventually came down to getting your baby on a routine, and this terrified me. I have never been a routine person, my husband and I even have a hard time remembering the garbage pickup routine, which is only one day a week! I remember a few years ago, when my smile wrinkles around my eyes started to show up, I invested almost all of my Christmas loot into expensive face care products. Almost $200 for a face scrub, wash, toner and lotion to be used in a specific order every night before bed. I think I stuck it out for oh, maybe a month before I started missing a night here and there, then it eventually got to a point where I was only remembering to do it a night here and there. I still have some of the toner left…
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
My point is, I have never ever been good with routines and I was pretty sure this time would be exactly the same way. Cue the ‘stressing for no reason because I am a new mom’ moments and also my belief that I was never going to get good sleep ever again. Well guess what, I had nothing to worry about. My son basically established a routine for me- bath, story/playtime, bottle, bed around 6 months old when we transitioned him to his crib in the nursery. If any one of the steps are skipped he doesn’t go to sleep for a long time, so there has never really been an option to stray from the routine. And surprisingly I have really embraced this whole thing. We aren’t super strict down to the second about when to start bedtime, that alone would make it stressful, but once we are done with dinner and maybe hang out a little bit, little man will start the eye rubs and that is generally our cue. This can occur anywhere between 6 and 7, maybe a little earlier if we didn’t get in a good second nap, sometimes a little later if his second nap went a little long.
Bedtime gets kicked off with a bath in our Fisher-Price 4-In-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub which is the same tub we have used since my son was first born. The sling was great for when he couldn’t sit up yet and now the seat is perfect for letting him feel somewhat independent while still giving him support. There was a little bit of an awkward stage where he didn’t want to lean back anymore but also couldn’t fit in the seat, but it wasn’t a very long stage. My little guy has always enjoyed bath time; well minus the first few that were pretty dramatic; and he enjoys splashing around with the bath toys. I’m not completely convinced that he finds it very relaxing but I think it is more of a trigger for him to know it’s time to start winding down for bed.
Once he is dried off and I have wrestled him into a clean diaper we will play in the play room for a little while. I am sure there are some people who will disagree with this strategy but it works for us and that is what matters. This is usually the best time my husband gets to spend time with our son during the week and so we enjoy the time we have. We will sometimes read a book or two during this time and it also gives him extra time to scoot around and work on his mobility. Once he starts getting cranky or the eyes get really red it’s time to get the sleeper on and move into the nursery.
This part of our bedtime routine will have to be phased out shortly but for now it is still in the lineup. This is also another one of those things some people might disagree with because the argument is you don’t want your children relying on the bottle to fall asleep. The difference is, my little guy doesn’t fall asleep after he has his fill of formula, instead he rolls around in my lap and we get a few burps out before I put him in the crib. If he is tired enough, he will sometimes snuggle with me in the glider after the bottle and this is the most adorable and sweetest time we have together throughout the day. I leave my phone out of the nursery, the sound machine is going and we just enjoy being together. This is my favorite part of the bedtime routine, although sadly it doesn’t happen every night.
Once all of this is done, into the crib he goes, wide awake but happy as long as all the gas is out. He gets his pacifier and lots of kisses from mom and dad before leaving him to settle himself. He will generally roll around and talk to himself for about 5-10 minutes before finally passing out face turned against the mattress, butt up in the air.
TO EACH THEIR OWN
If you were to ask 10 different moms what their bedtime routine is with their kids I would assume you would receive 10 different answers, or maybe even more. And guess what, not a single one is the ‘correct answer’. Because there is no such thing. Each family and each baby will figure out what works for them, so don’t stress about it. This is something that will just naturally occur for the most part, with maybe a little bit of nudging in a direction that works best for you. Have faith in yourself momma and read all 10 different answers, then pick and choose which one works best for YOUR BABY!