C H AR L I E - 3 Y E A R S , 1 M O N T H
O L I V E - 1 5 M O N T H S
Since Olive turned 1 year old, a trick that's really helped has been to put her in her crib belly down (I wouldn't do this if she were younger than a year old), and place a hand on her back. I think when I put her on her back, she can see my face so that stimulates her, but she can't see me if she's on her tummy. Babies also usually sleep better on their tummies. Another trick I use is I keep a sock filled with rice in the crib. Then after I put her belly down, I put the sock on her back; she thinks it's my hand, and I can sneak away. This works so well! I hope to get back to just plopping her in her crib awake like we used to, but she keeps getting sick so I do what I gotta go to get her to sleep. You can use the sock trick with an infant as well (before they can roll). Try warming the sock for a little while in the microwave and placing it next to baby -- they'll think it's your hand and fall asleep faster and maybe stay asleep longer too!
The first two years of Charlie's life sleep-wise were pretty great. But the past year his sleep has really been up and down. We constantly deal with him coming out of his room at bedtime over and over again, and making excuses why he can't sleep (he's not tired, he's hungry, he needs to use the potty, etc.). One thing that's really been working for us lately is leaving his door wide open after his bedtime routine. The lights are off, he's in his bed, and he can hear us in the kitchen, but perhaps he feels more comforted knowing we're nearby. When he first started having sleep troubles around 2, we held his hand through the crib until he fell asleep (and we often fell asleep on the floor doing that!). But now that he's older, it just energizes him if we stay in the room so he needs to be alone in his room to fall asleep. Keeping the door open and his Cloud B Constellation Turtle Night Light has really helped him to fall asleep on his own.
The kids' sleep has always been a priority for us, so we never scheduled activities that interfered with naps or bedtimes. We also preserved routines and maintained early bedtimes. But every stage has still brought different sleep challenges, and it's always a work in progress!
T O D D L E R G I R L - 3 4 M O N T H S
W O N D E R B A B Y - 1 1 M O N T H S
With a baby, shushing really does work wonders. It's calming and rhythmic, kind of like mommy white noise. That with a hand on the chest or forehead will often get them to fall asleep in their crib when they would prefer to be held.
Now that Toddler Girl is older, routine is the most important thing. She will get very agitated if we break routine very much at bedtime. She also likes to be sung to, which is nice because it keeps her from getting excited and talking to me. She just lies there watching me sing and it calms her down.
N O E L L E - 2 Y E A R S
One of our biggest tricks has been to put TH belly-down for naps and bedtime. We've been doing this ever since she knew how to roll both ways. We also never break routine. We make sure to do everything, even if they are out of order. There have been times when it seemed like she was extra tired, so we would try to omit one thing or another, but in the end it would just take us LONGER to put her down.
L I L’ C B - 3 Y E A R S , 3 M O N T H S
I agree that keeping up with a set routine is HUGE. It helps CB wind down because he can predict the routine and he knows that after washing up, it's two stories, a song, and prayers before he hops into bed. Currently, he requests that I sit outside his room while he falls asleep (this was a bit of set-back bad habit that we still haven't fully broken after lots of traveling this past summer), but I don't engage with him while I sit. In fact, CB says, "I just want to see you, Mommy!" Usually, once I'm sitting out there, he's out within 10-15 minutes.
W A G O N J R . - 3 Y E A R S , 1 M O N T H
L I T T L E M I S S W A G O N - 6 M O N T H S
We've always been very consistent with naptimes and bedtimes ever since WJ was a baby. The consistent items include:
1) Bath (before bedtime)
2) White Noise
4) Sleep Sack
7) Rubbing his head/back
8) 3 kisses goodnight
9) back and forth "goodnight, I love you, see you tomorrow, sweet dreams" etc.
10) Lovey (and other stuffed animals now).
We used to do prayers and songs, but now we're in a books and songs phase.
Getting WJ to agree to go to bed or take a nap can be challenging, but we prepare him ("5 minutes, then we go upstairs for night-night") well ahead of time. When it's time to go, once he's agreed to take a gummi vitamin lollipop, he lets us pick him up and bring him upstairs. He knows that once he's upstairs, he's going to bed. He will have a meltdown sometimes in the bathroom going potty and/or taking his bath, but once we're in the bedroom we're usually smooth sailing.
L I T T L E Y – 1 7 M O N T H S
Yup, also routine. And it doesn't have to be complicated or long. For Little Y, sometimes we do a bath, sometimes not. But every night, I take him into my room, sit with him on the bed, give him his paci, rub on lotion, put on his PJs and sleep sack, and then just hold him for a few minutes before taking him into his room, turning on his white noise, and putting him in the crib. He's so programmed now that as soon as we sit down on the bed he's usually already rubbing his eyes and hugging me.
B A B Y S C R I B B L E – 5 M O N T H S
This is for newborns too young to have a solid bedtime routine. I took to heart Dr. Sears' advice to cultivate multiple "sleep associations" for your child: aka nursing or swinging or bouncing. Don't become dependent upon one because you won't be able or willing to do the same thing in every situation. My husband has this really specific way of bouncing the baby that puts him to sleep in an instant. You must be standing up to do it correctly and it is really tiring, especially in the middle of the night! I simply refused to bounce him in that way; it wasn't something I wanted to do at 3AM or every time he needed to fall asleep. So I stuck it out through a few bad nights until baby would consent to fall asleep while I rocked him in the glider. Now my husband does the "daddy dance" if he is putting him down and I rock and/or nurse him before I put him down.
Also, a projector mobile is a worthwhile investment. Now that Scribble is 3 months old it is time to start putting him down while awake. In the past few weeks baby has actually gone to sleep out of arms without tears (!) a few times thanks to the projector (it does white noise too). Nothing more frustrating than soothing a child to sleep and then seeing their little eyes pop open right after you complete the perfect swaddle! The projector gets him back to sleep quickly.
W E E S T R O L L E R - 1 2 M O N T H S
Consistency is key here. We started a routine at 2 weeks that includes bath, swaddle (or sleepsack now), white noise, breastfeed and bed. No matter where we are, we do the routine even if it just means a warm washcloth to wash his face and privates.
J A C O B I - 1 1 M O N T H S
We definitely have a routine that we stick pretty closely to! It always works for bedtime for sure, but not always for naps.
Our bedtime routine is:
Lotion & PJs
Turn on white noise
Nursing and song
Put in crib on side or belly and give kisses
For naps however, he doesn't always go to sleep this way, even though we have a very similar nap routine.
One thing that works nearly every time is to bring him to our bed and side nurse; he nearly always nurses to sleep. Of course I hardly ever do this because we worked so hard to break the nursing-to-sleep habit, however when we are desperate - it works!
We always have tubby time before bed. The warm water is good for our little ones - it helps soothe and relax them. They are so toasty and warm when we put them in their PJ's. We almost never have issues when it's time for bed.
Baby boy always has a story time with daddy before bed. After a book or two, he starts to get sleepy and going to bed is no problem.
We also put fans on at night to block out some noise (not all). It seems to help them a bit too! I agree with some of the other mommies - consistency seems to be the key factor!
L I A M - 10 M O N T H S
We always use white noise and a sleep sack for every nap and bed time. Consistency is so important, but I also think it's good to be flexible. For example, we're having a late family event and we will have to be creative with Liam's early bed time. We can't expect everyone to always adjust to our routine!
B A B Y H - 8 M O N T H S
In addition to a good bedtime routine, we stick with the same time every night. Baby H is in bed by 7pm on the dot. We don't change that schedule for anything - family, friends, work. That is her bedtime and we stick with it. The only change we might make is a little bit earlier if she's had a terrible day of napping. She is a fabulous night sleeper and I really feel like keeping things the same is key.
Naps are a struggle for us and since about 4 months we have let Baby H "cry it out." Our best bet for this is watching her cues. Of course we won't let her cry for an insane amount of time, but if she cries, then sucks her hand, then cries some more, then sucks her hand, we know that she is settling down and will soon fall asleep. If we're not seeing these little breaks in between fussing/crying we might go into her room and "re-set" her - change her diaper, switch her to back or tummy, etc.
B A B Y C H E C K E R S - 1 9 M O N T H S
I would have to agree with everyone else - a routine will make the putting down to bed process much easier!
Sometimes bath is part of the routine, but we still don't give her one every day. Right now (especially in the winter when she's not really sweating much) we give her one every other day. After her bath, we change her into PJs and start the routine.
While Baby Checkers has been weaned from bottles since she turned one, we still give her some warm milk to drink at night time, and while she's drinking we'll let her play and/or read some books to her. Then we brush her teeth, and have her hug everyone downstairs and say good night. I usually put her to bed (Mr. C. occasionally does, but most often it's me) and we snuggle in the rocking chair while I sing her a few songs (this is probably my most favorite time of day with her). When she's ready to go to her crib, she'll point to it and ask for Pooh Bear, and then I put her tummy down (since this is generally how she falls asleep these days). Some nights are a battle and she will cry, but most often she will play in her crib a little before falling asleep.
J A M E S - 4 , J O E & N I C K - 3
L I L L Y – A L M O S T 1 5 M O N T H S
I guess ours is similar as everyone else. Routine is important. I also try to make sure they have a lot of physical activities during the day. If they are tired, they don't fight it as bad.
My husband does bed time for the three boys while I put our daughter down. On nights when they are having trouble, I will often go in after my husband has read them their stories and rub their backs and sing them songs. For the most part they go to bed pretty well but sometimes they have their feisty nights. We just keep sending them back to bed if they get up.