Monday, November 22, 2010

The importance of bedtime routines for infants

Most of you probably already know how we've struggled with Nate's sleeping. I've complained  explained our issues many times over (read here, here and here). When you're trying to figure out how to solve infant sleep problems, one of the first things you read in books and online is about the importance of a bedtime routine. It helps the baby transition from awake time to bedtime. As in most areas of life, children are comforted by routines and predictability. And of course it makes sense. I have a bedtime routine for myself. It doesn't involve lullabies or butt cream (usually), but I always feel more settled after I've washed my face and completed my three hundred Kegel reps.

Sesame Street Bert Finger Puppet
I think we instituted a bedtime routine for Nate when he was about four months old. It's changed over time to adjust to his likes, dislikes, wants and needs of the moment. Now our bedtime routine begins between 6:20 - 6:45 pm depending on how well he's napped that day and how grumpy the lack of napping has made him. It starts with bath time and teeth brushing. Then we move onto diaper and pajamas in a dimly lit room with music, white noise and humidifier running. We read a story with Bert and Ernie...or at least we try to read a story. Sometimes Nate throws the book on the floor or grabs it away and flips the pages himself for awhile. Then he nurses for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes if he's exhausted. Longer if he's not as tired. He'll take breaks to sit up and read his story to himself or play with his loveys. And by play, I mean bite Bert's nasty black hair and then laugh at me when I tell him that's disgusting and the hairs are getting in his mouth.  Of course I wanted the Green Sprouts Organic Terry Circus Animal  to be his nighttime lovey, but as my mother warned me - the baby will always pick the lovey, not the parent.

When he's done nursing I turn the light off and put him in his crib after kissing him goodnight and wishing him sweet dreams. I used to lay his head on his pillow, but have given up on that. He always sits up and falls forward so that he's folded in half, face down. Ah, the flexibility of babies. Imagine sleeping like that? He's usually asleep between 7:00 and 7:45 pm. I'd like to push it back a bit later but he's just not cooperating in the nap department. Oh well. I'm sure it will change. It always does.

What's your children's sleep routine? How has it changed over time? What books do you recommend to friends who are having sleep issues with their little ones? I always recommend  The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy and Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition.

Don't forget to enter my Earth Mama Angel Baby giveaway here. Their products are non-toxic and fantastic! Ends 12/1/10.

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