“How do they go to bed without trouble?”–one of the most common questions I’m asked. And, honestly, it comes down to their routine. They’ve had a bedtime routine for a l-o-n-g time, parts of it we began implementing at birth, like nursing and reading, others have started and evolved over time.
One of the newer parts of their bedtime routine is their bedtime song. This was something silly I started singing one evening that V started repeating the next, “baby, baby”. What can I say, it’s like a musical or Disney movie over here most days–minus the chore performing animals, haha.
“Baby baby, night night.
Baby baby, sleep tight.”
That’s it, just repeated multiple times. And being so simple, they can easily sing most of it.
So here’s our current routine:
-There’s no set bedtime, we follow their led. That being said, they aren’t going to bed at three in the morning, haha. We usually begin their bedtime routine between 8-8:30. They are down to one nap, that they usually take around noon, so they are sleepy and ready for bed.
-We give them their vitamins.
-Brush teeth and floss. We brush their teeth first, that way they see and feel how they should be brushed, and then they do it as long as they’d like, lots of practice.
-Change into bedtime footie pajamas and the sleep sacks their great-aunt made. These are the sleep sacks we used last winter and, as the weather cools, will most likely purchase the appropriate size and use again.
-*EXTREMELY IMPORTANT* We turn off the lights, except for the low light in the bathroom. This helps prepare them for sleep and helps prevent night fears. Try this yourself: At night, go into a bedroom and shut-off the lights. See how dark it is? Now, let’s do it a little differently. Go into a bedroom, this time decrease the light. Notice how you can “see” in the dark compared to when you just shut-off the light? It adds a few extra seconds to the routine, but makes such a difference. The one time we forgot to turn the bathroom light on caused V to become greatly upset. Seeing her reaction to immediate darkness assures us that the way we go about preventing night fear works well for her. So we are always, especially, mindful come bedtime.
-We sit in the chair located in their movement room and read a book. This is when they are winding down. So we read something of reasonable length, like this and this, using a little book light. (We really really enjoy Patricia Polacco; many of her stories, illustrations, and the length of her books are so perfect.)
-Once we are done reading, Hubby comes in and one of the girls goes with him. We stay in the movement room rocking (although we didn’t rock when they were younger) and singing their song. Once they start sucking a thumb or stop singing along (usually between 5 and 10 repetitions) it’s time to go to bed.
-We go into their room, make sure the shades are closed and turn on their Hatch light with white noise sound (an absolute must and we bring it with us when we go anywhere overnight, RV or hotel).
-Hubby and I both give them a kiss, tell them we love them and then lay them down in their beds.
E immediately grabs her sleepy-baby that her great-aunt made and V cuddles her muslin blanket. (These materials have only been added after they turned a year-old.)
We close the bedroom door and the door in the hallway that separates the bedrooms and bathroom from the kitchen and sitting-area.
And that’s it.
However, modifications are made as they require them. For instance, from when I started this post until now, E now requires her baby during their bedtime reading and V requests her blankie. We learn to just go with the flow, as long as there’s no harm being done, and bedtime remains uneventful.
If something is off, like the time V didn’t care for a few of the spiders in a bedtime book we had read, we have a few other, legitimate, songs that we rock to and sing. One my mum and aunt sang through their childhood, more of a camp song, and there was so much pride when my sister and I learned it–it’s become a family song of sorts. Another is Bruno Mars’ “Count On Me,” which I sang regularly throughout my pregnancy.
They find these songs calming, as they’ve heard them frequently, so they are perfect for soothing fears. We go back into the movement room, to our chair, and sing until they are better. Once they are calm, we start with their night time song again. If they sing along, they are soothed and ready for bed, again.
Do you have a solid bedtime routine that works for you and your little one?