Night Time Routine
When I found out I was pregnant, I was given a lot of advice from family. One thing that really resonated with me was creating a “night time routine”. I knew I didn’t want to be someone that had to have their kids in the bath by 7:00 and down by 7:30. (If you are that mother and it works for you, you’re doing awesome), that just wasn’t realistic for us. We have no “routine” at home and knowing my husbands job schedule alters so often, I didn’t want to be tied to a set routine. However, I did want Marleigh to have a loose routine that was consistent to let her know when it was time for bed.
My night time routine is something that I think has been the foundation for Marleigh’s good sleep skills. I might be incorrect but when we skip a bath or forget our sleep sack, I feel like she wakes up more. I never focused on the time we put her down, but more so her cues and the actual steps themselves. Today, I’m going to share with you all my night time routine. If we are home, we start her night schedule when she seems tired. This is usually sometime in between 7pm-9pm! If we are out and about, I start the routine when we get home. If we are on vacation or away from the house, I try to make the environment feel as much like home as I can and go when she is tired. I told y’all - we are really flexible. Marleigh often takes a late afternoon/early evening nap. I try not to let her fall asleep after 5pm and I entertain her to get her wiped out for bed time. Before her night time routine, we play together and get her mind stimulated so she gets really tired!
When we realize it’s time to start our night routine this is what we do:
Step 1: Nurse/ Bottle
Marleigh will show cues that she is tired so I will nurse her as much as I can. I try to make sure she is FULL. Often during this feed, she will get drowsy because she is tired. I will sit her up and switch sides! I want to make sure she eats as much as possible. I used to feed after the bath but after talking to a sleep consultant who suggested I feed first, Marleigh has slept longer in the night. She explained to me that Marleigh was associating nursing to falling asleep, therefore in the middle of the night if she woke up she would need to nurse in order to put herself back to sleep. This little switch in our routine made a world of difference. If you bottle feed, this is perfect time to give a bottle. If it were me, I would alternate who feeds the baby different nights so they get used to everyone. (I’m not a scientist or baby expert, but I feel like this would help in the long run for anyone to put them down. Don’t quote me!)
Step 2: Bath
After Marleigh is full, I put her in the bath. This is the time for her to relax in the warm water, release gas bubbles so her belly is settled, and get all cleaned up. Lavender body wash is my favorite to set the mood for calming. We have some little toys that I let Marleigh play with herself but I try to keep a calm voice when engaging with her. Some nights we definitely have her splashing and going crazy, but for the most part I try to keep a calm environment. Kids will be kids though, so if gets crazy I join the fun with her. Memories outweigh a clean bathroom!
Step 3: Baby Self Care
During this time, I give Marleigh a baby massage with lavender lotion. I put her night time diaper on, her footie pajamas, and I brush her hair (she loves this). I try to keep the mood super calm by talking very softly, humming, and giving little kisses. I only turn on a lamp so it isn’t super bright in the room. Marleigh usually wipes her eyes, pulls at her ears, and yawns during this time. This is my cue that she is ready for bed! I did my job well as a mama!
Step 4: Sleep Sack- Lay in Crib
Okay. I find the Sleep Sack so important. We use the Nested Bean Zen Sack for Marleigh! I linked it here for you to check out. They are such a wonderful company dedicated to making our lives as mamas so much easier at night. We started her with the newborn Nested Bean Swaddle but now that she is older, we transitioned her into the sack just in case she rolls. YALL, I swear by these sacks! My friend used them and introduced me and I fell in love. (Thanks Erin!!) Not only do they come in cute patterns, but the weighted center provides comfort for self-soothing. It sits on their chest, unless they are belly sleepers you can have it where it is placed on the center of their back. I highly, highly suggest you all try these sacks if your little one is having trouble at night. When I lay Marleigh in the crib in her sack, I make sure she is either drowsy but awake or wide awake. She will self-soothe herself to sleep on her own. The first week Marleigh cried and fussed for a few minutes when I put her down, but with the sack and getting used to the routine she now falls asleep like a champ with no fuss.
White Noise Machine: Some people use a white noise machine to play while their little one is asleep. I don’t use this because we never have with Marleigh and she does fine without it. If you are having trouble, it’s worth investing and trying it out. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great brand for you but I’ve heard there are many good ones on Amazon!
Pacifiers: Some babes love the comfort of a soother. I did not give Marleigh one because she would wake up when it would fall out. So, I just had her learn to sleep without it. It’s been easier for us to not have it. Again, it might be better for your babe so you can give it a try.
Book: We want to incorporate reading into our routine permanently. Some nights we will throw in a book after we have her in the sack but before we lay her down. When she gets older, this will be something we do every night. Right now it just depends on the night if we read or not. If she doesn’t seem too sleepy then I will definitely read and wait for her to get more drowsy.
Middle of the Night Wake Up: Ok, sometimes Marleigh will wake up at like 3AM. You know your child the best and I’m sure you can differentiate between hunger cry and fussy/attention cry. I usually wait 10-20 minutes and during this time Marleigh will fall asleep again on her own - usually. If I see her cry is getting stronger into a hunger cry and she is waking up, I walk in and feed her. It’s completely normal to feed 1-2 times a night when they are young. Marleigh still wakes up sometimes but her sleep stretches are growing longer and most often she sleeps through the night.
If you have questions about sleeping, regressions, swaddle and sack questions - CHECK OUT NESTED BEAN’S WEBSITE. They have so much helpful information about sleeping that will make life easier. During the four month sleep regression, I loved having them as a resource. They partner with a lot of sleep experts on Instagram that will takeover their stories and answer your questions personally! Nested bean is the one stop shop and info center for sleep. The best part is their products actually work!!! Check their website out here.
I’m not a sleep expert, nor do I know if my routine is 100% solid. I’m learning just like you are. All I can say is if you are finding yourself having issues with bedtime and sleeping through the night, this might be something for you to consider looking into. It could be you just need a slight change in your routine or a product to help make the process easier. Hope you find your sleep soon mama. Like everything, “This too shall pass”. You will get there one day but enjoy this moment now. We will miss it when they get older.