I posted a couple of weeks ago about our supposed “sleep nirvana” that we had reached after doing some sleep training with Cora. Nirvana is definitely not where we are at but there is a night and day difference between how Cora sleeps now and how she slept a month ago. She is putting herself to sleep for naps and bedtime with no stress and no tears, she sleeps through the night, and she wakes up happy! So guess who else is sleeping… ME! Sometimes… Josh and I have developed a habit of staying up super late because we hoard our “just us” time like my mother hoards See’s Candies. BUT, on the nights that we are responsible and go to bed at a reasonable hour, it’s now totally worth it because we can keep sleeping until morning instead of waking up an hour later to a distraught baby. Life is wonderful! Sleep is super important guys… but that’s a whole other post. Though we went through a lot of trial and error, frustration, and experimentation trying to get Cora to sleep better and feel more comfortable in her own bed (Co-sleepers anonymous member over here), I attribute a large part of our final success to our bedtime ritual. Cora was ready to sleep on her own a long time ago but because she was so used to sleeping with us (not to mention being on my hip ever moment of every day), when we put her in her crib and left the room, she kind of panicked. Or maybe she was just ticked… Regardless, I know that the reason she does so well now is because we take those 15-30 minutes before her bedtime to do a few things as a family, the same things every night, to make her feel comfortable, loved, and of course, sleepy. It’s made a world of difference for Cora. Our nightly activities not only are great ways for us to spend time together, but they have become cues to her that it is about time to go to sleep. We’ve actually been having to rush through the tail end of our ritual lately because she’s been winding down and getting sleepy right at the beginning! So if you think you’re kiddo is ready to go to sleep and stay asleep on their own but things aren’t working, read the rest of this post and try to dial in your bedtime routine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent its that babies thrive with structure and consistency bundled up with a heck-ton of love! So give it a try. I’m going to make this simple and just write out what our nightly routine with Cora is. Here goes:
6:30- Right after dinner, I nurse Cora for the last time of the evening.
6:45- Cora gets in the tub and plays for 10-15 minutes. Then I get her all washed up.
7:00- Dad gets Cora out of the tub while I get her pjs ready, bedroom blinds closed, and pick up any stray toys. Then we lotion her up, get her dressed, comb her hair, and brush her teeth. We also always use my homemade sleepy-time lotion or put diluted lavender on the bottom of her feet.
7:05- We turn her white noise machine on, kneel/cuddle for family prayer, and Daddy says goodnight. I then read her one story and say a “personal prayer” while she cuddles with her lovey and favorite blanket. After a song or two I tell her that her Daddy and I love her, that we’ll be here if she needs us, and lay her in bed. Then I walk out and shut the door. And she goes right to sleep!
That’s it! We don’t do a ton and everything is super simple but I know that Cora feels comfortable with the consistency and that it’s working for us. Bedtime routines don’t have to be hours long or have to be anything grand. Just take those last few minutes to love on your kiddo before you put them down for the night. I know I’ll never regret these times because Cora has been such a busy-body lately those cuddles right before bed are all I ever get!
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you guys do for your bedtime routines or what has worked for your family.
Hint: I do the same routine for naps I just skip the bath and all the shenanigans with Dad.