Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bedtime Routine

Someone asked about how I established Noble's bedtime routine in a comment. I thought I would answer in a post. As always, I will start with a bit of background.

When we had Sabrina, she was a very easy baby and could sleep soundly almost anywhere. We could take her with us no matter where we went and we knew she would just fall asleep if she got tired, or Jon could bounce her in his arms for about 30 seconds and she would fall asleep. So for the first 9 months of her life that is how we put her to sleep. Jon would bounce her to sleep.

At 9 months I decided this was not so practical anymore. I couldn't bounce her to sleep. It had to be Jon. He wasn't always available. So we decided to teach her to go to sleep unassisted. We put her in the crib and tucked her in after she was well fed and clean. Then we left the room. She cried. And it about broke my heart. She cried for 40 minutes. Then she fell asleep.

The next night we tried again. Again she cried. This time it was for 20 minutes. Then she fell asleep. The third night she cried for 5 minutes and fell asleep. After that if she cried at all it was only for a minute or two and then she would soothe herself and go to sleep.

I asked myself why I had waited so long to do this with Sabrina. With Ann Marie I started trying at 4 months. It didn't work so well. She was just a really hard baby. My hardest for sure. She would not go to sleep for me. We actually had a live-in, part-time nanny after I had Ann Marie because this girl could get Annie to sleep. (Still thanking my lucky stars for you Shanan!)

With Annie I would try for hours to get her down and then end up taking her to Shanan and she would be asleep in a matter of minutes.

Lauren was the easiest baby ever. She loved the binki and would keep it in her mouth easily. If she was sucking she was sleeping. She slept so much and was easy to put down. I just gave her a binki and her blankie and she was good to go. That was pretty much from day one with her.

Camille and Noble have been rather similar except that Noble had a bit of reflux his first few months so we didn't sleep him in his crib. We put him to bed in his swing. The more upright position was better for him. We would put him in his swing awake and turn out the lights and close the door and he would cry for a minute or two and then fall asleep.

Once in a while he would cry for a bit longer. But generally he would fall asleep in under 15 minutes. If he cried longer than that I would go get him out, play with him for about 20 minutes and then try again. This is because I figured he wasn't really tired enough yet. Usually after another 20 minutes he would be more tired and conk out more easily.

When we transitioned him to the crib it was really easy. We just put him down, turned on the sound machine, turned off the lights, gave him a soft snuggly blanket and left the room. He would cry when we put him down but as soon as we gave him the soft blankie he would rub it over his face. This is a cue to me that he is sleepy.

He may still cry as I leave the room and may even cry a little for a few minutes after I have left. I go downstairs out of earshot and then check on him after a few minutes to make sure he has fallen asleep. 98% of the time he falls asleep after about 10 minutes and has stopped crying after about 3 minutes. The other 2% I go back and get him and try to put him down a bit later as I described previously.

My point is different kids can be different in how they get to sleep. With Camille and Noble they really just want to be put down and left alone so they CAN sleep. Often their crying is a sign of tiredness. We all get cranky when we are tired and they just need a calm, dark, quiet place to let that crankiness out and wind down to sleep.

This may not be true for your kid but it is worth a try if you are feeling frazzled by a longer and more tiring bedtime routine. Good luck finding the right tactic for you and your child!


Dava_Hudson said...

Im having such a difficult time with my second son. My first was much like Noble and Lauren. He just wanted to be in bed and have his binkie. My second HATES the binkie and will cry for HOURS if I try to let him cry it out.Its just exhausting. I end up nursing him to sleep and he ends up over eating and making himself sick. If anyone else has an idea letme know!! :)

Tawnie said...

Dr. Ferbers book worked wonders for us with my 5 kids and will be used again with #6.
There are only 2 pages in the book that really matter. And it is a time frame of going in after crying.
Works wonders!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I really appreciate you answering my question and providing some insight on sleepy babies.

shanan said...

It's going to be all too ironic when I can't put my own babies to sleep ... :)

Sue said...

I'm 57. In the old days, we just put them in their beds once they were three months old and let them cry. Mine never cried for more than a week, and most of them only lasted three days crying. They figured out how to get themselves to sleep and then they knew how to do it. We were told to let them cry, so we didn't feel guilty. I remember my mom telling me they needed to get all that tension out so they could settle down.

None of my friends were ever up with their babies in the night like moms today are. I seriously don't even know how modern moms make it with the sleep deprivation.

My daughter says that when she has kids, she is going to do it the old-fashioned way. I bet she does, too. She likes her sleep!