I cannot tell you how much this has saved us. I honestly don’t think it was something I really thought a whole lot about before hand. But I am so glad that the first night we brought A home, we had a plan in place, and we kept with it.
It may seem sort of silly at first to start a ‘routine’ when you know you’ll be up another 3-4 times overnight feeding. But it helps to establish a routine for the long haul.
Our routine goes something like this:
7:15-8pm-somewhere between here A will start signaling to us she is ready for bed, but even before she ‘told’ us it was bedtime, we would always make sure she was in bed by 8 pm.
We change her diaper, use the same Johnson’s Bedtime lotion every night and get her in her jammies. While one of us is doing that, the other is getting her bottle ready, her bed ready and her music turned on. She has a lullaby CD that we play for her every night while she is getting ready for bed and taking her bottle. Before sitting down to take her bottle, we turn out the lights, and turn on the closet light (her nightlight of sorts). She takes her bottle, and when done is put in her crib, where we turn on her aquarium crib soother. Then her sound machine is turned on (the same sound we have used ever since we brought her home).
When she was still ‘fresh’ there were times when she fell asleep before we put her down. But we really tried to make sure she was still somewhat awake when we put her down. To encourage her to fall asleep on her own.
And although we did actually buy a bassinet that we could put in between us in our bed (a desperate measure after a few sleepless nights), we never actually used it. I understand why people keep their babies in bed with them, or in the same room as them, but it just wasn’t something that was going to work for us. And I think in the long run, it was better the way we did it. It’s taught A good sleeping habits early on. Even in the early months when she would fuss, I would give it 10-15 minutes before I went to get her. I wanted to make sure it was something she really needed. And some times she would go right back to sleep, other times she wouldn’t and was hungry. But even now, she does wake up sometimes, and will kick around (normally to turn on her aquarium) and will fall back asleep on her own.
Setting a sleep schedule early on is SO important. It really sets you up for the long run and will help you to have better nights as well. I know some babies are much more challenging than others. We certainly have been very lucky and have had a very easy, calm, laid back little girl and we are so blessed. But, even if A wasn’t as easy, we still would have stuck to a routine with her.
It also helps to make at least part of your routine ‘portable’ too. So if you go away, or if baby stays at grandma’s, then there will be some of their routine that can go with them. Example: we have A’s lullaby CD in my phones iTunes, as well as on an iPod that goes to grandma’s house. Her sound machine has battery back-up, so it too, is portable.
Do you have a schedule with your baby/kids? Has it always been the same? And do you think it has helped long-term for them?