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!