Whenever I hear someone I know is expecting a first child, I share the same piece of advice: everything—everything—you say for the first three months of your baby’s life is a direct result of sleep deprivation. And that’s if you’re lucky. We’ve all heard the horror stories of one-year-olds who still won’t sleep through the night. And if you’re the parent of multiples, well, you have my unmitigated respect. While there’s not much you can do about the first three or four months, there are things you can start doing that will make the whole sleeping situation a heck of a lot easier from infancy to toddlerhood and beyond. I asked you—readers, parents, and fellow bloggers—for your best tips on a quick and (relatively) painless bedtime. Thanks to all who contributed to this month’s Question of the Month, from me and from the parents who may take away that one little pearl of wisdom that leads to a few extra hours of shuteye tonight.
Start a routine early on (2 or 3 weeks old) and stick to it meticulously every single night.
Ours was initially bath, milk feed (with low lighting, skin to skin, and a lullaby), bed. It’s surprising how quickly they can learn to associate bath time with winding down to bedtime. Although it worked so well for Baby No2 that whenever we tried to go swimming (eldest loves swimming), she would fall asleep as soon as we got in the pool!
Lucy – Lucy At Home
For us, bedtime is the time of day for relaxing. As my younger kids get closer to lights out, they have movie time. They choose a movie and a bedroom to watch it in, have a snack and enjoy.
We also set aside some time for reading. Weather it’s me or mom, my kids pick out 2 stories. One for them to read and one for me. Once its lights out they brush their teeth, wash faces and go to the washroom. Head out to mom for bedtime hugs and kisses with tickles then off to their rooms where dad tuckes them in. We even have a night time sayin that my mom told me as a kid. Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. If they do, pinch them tight, and they won’t come back tomorrow night.
For my teen, she is out of the whole dad tucking in stage but the rest still stands. The same pre-bed ritual.
For my younger 2, lights out is at 7pm school nights with eyes closed by 7:30pm at the latest. For my teen it’s electronics off at 9pm with reading untill she falls asleep.
If I can leave dads with one thing its have a nightly routine and stick with it. There can be some wiggle room with times but keep the struture the same. Being consistant will result in less struggle at bedtime and more rested kids which is what they need. It also gives us parents much needed time to be togeather and rest from the day.
Some nights there is fighting and awww dads but stay true to the routine and you will be fine. So will they.
Jeff – droolingdaddy
Think it’s really important to keep them in a routine so they come to expect their bedtime (for the most part). If we mess up his schedule throughout the day, he can become cranky when it’s time for him to go down for the night. We always aim for 7:00!
We tend to read to our little guy before bedtime. Typically, we’ll rock him in the rocking chair while reading a book or softly singing one of his favorite songs – Twinkle Twinkle and Rubber Ducky are top contenders.
Joe – FatherFoodFun
This is how our ritual began. Every evening is the same. I give him his bottle of milk, I try and find my little spot in his little bed and hold him in my arms. I love it when I tell him I love you and he answers the same with his childish voice. I love the way his hair get into my face. I love the way he smells. I love everything about him (even though sometimes I get angry at him for being a naughty boy and not listening to me).
Oana – Blondie Mommy’s Stories
Recently our son was getting upset at bedtime, not wanting us to leave his room and saying he was lonely and didn’t like the dark. We helped him by picking out a special night light – it’s a turtle that glows stars on the ceiling (it also comes as a lady bug, which we got for our daughter and it turns itself off after a period of time). While this has helped ease some of the bedtime anxiety, another thing we started doing before saying good night is asking our kids what made them happy that day. We call it our happy thought for the day and we encourage them to think about it as they try to fall asleep.
Jennifer – Mama at Heart
For Wife and me, it was much the same. A nightlight, some soft music or white noise, a book, a bottle and a rocking chair. And we did it every night. After a few months, the boys were sleeping like, well, babies. Take these lessons from seasoned parents to heart, and hopefully your own children will start sleeping on your schedule, not their own.