I know that the nightly routine of a parent can be overwhelming. Screaming babies, dinner on the stove (or being delivered), daily chores, a partner needing some affection too… The list goes on.
Our nighttimes are calm. Our babies go to sleep with little or no fuss. My husband and I have a few hours to ourselves. It’s wonderful. This is how we do it.
1. Start early. Our routine is fairly elaborate (which is totally unnecessary – just do whatever works as long as it’s consistent), so we start at about 5 pm.
2. Bath. We do a bath every other day. When it’s not a bath night we skip this step.
3. Naked time and infant massage. We put prefolds down on a blanket, get our lotion, and rub little baby limbs in a calming manner. The tv gets turned off, we smile and coo. Babies look at each other. Then fresh diapers and pajamas go on.
4. Bottle or breastfeed. Top em off before bedtime.
5. Swaddle. Tightly. Don’t let them escape. If you have escape artists, consider using Alyssa’s double swaddle method. We use it for Clara.
6. Put them down in their crib before they get fussy. We offer pacifiers, turn on white noise and shoosh them until they are calm. If they absolutely fight it, they might not be sleepy. We pick them up, snuggle, shoosh and try again.
7. Let them fall asleep. On their own. They do it.
So when we started this (about 1 month gestational age), we had no issues with Cormac. He was all for it. Clara had a hard time, but we would calm her, soothe her, and keep trying. She was fussy, but rarely actually cried. If she threw a fit we would pick her up and soothe her before trying again, but we tried to just rub her head, shoosh her, offer her pacifier and calm her down while she was in the crib. She has a hard time falling asleep when she is overstimulated, so rocking her and snuggling her doesn’t work well. We had to go back in our room and comfort her several times in the first hour before she fell asleep all the way. That went on for about three days. She falls asleep with no problem now and we never did controlled crying and never considered crying it out.
Their bedtime is between 6:00 and 7:00. They determine it. If your child is a screaming demon after 5:00 pm, try an early bedtime. Yes, they will be up at 5:00 or 6:00 am, but it’s what they need.
They still nap several times a day. Good naps (they are short but often) promote good sleep.
We have not transitioned to full nights in the crib, but since I nurse Clara at night, I don’t mind bed sharing. Cormac will generally go back to sleep in the crib after his midnight feeding (he sttn now).
No tears, no pain, no unnecessarily harsh methods. And they go to sleep on their own every single night. It’s wonderful.