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Bedtime Routines

I finally get it. After hearing other parents ? especially the moms I know ? sigh with relief as they put their feet up and indulge in a glass of wine, celebrating the victory of putting their child to bed, I understand where they’re coming from. Our daughter hasn?t always been difficult ? she was a relatively easy baby, save for a few nights of crying where nothing seemed to work to console her. But her bedtime routine, or lack thereof, was frustrating to say the least.

After attempting to institute some sort of bedtime routine, whether it was a warm bath and a story, one last feeding before a snuggle session, or just pleading with her to go to sleep already so the rest of us could sleep. We tried everything we could think of, and nothing seemed to work.

My theory is that she just wasn?t ready for it. We operated on an as-needed basis with her feedings, so why force her to go to sleep when she wasn?t ready? This changed around her first birthday. Suddenly her day seemed to fall into a recognizable pattern of bottle (or sippy cup), solids, nap, bottle, etc., etc., and then, finally, bedtime.

As her bedtime began to fall around the same time each night, we decided that that was her bedtime (a very reasonable 8:30 p.m.) and began a routine.

It worked.

The first night, at least. The second night, she happily came upstairs with us and let us brush her teeth and read a book, but when we went to gently set her in her crib, whispering our ?good nights? to her, she let us know how unhappy she was.

Parenting is about nothing if not consistency, so we stuck to our guns, listening to her cries over the baby monitor but staying firmly planted on the couch until her few minutes of crying tapered off and she fell asleep.

The night after, and each night since, has gone much smoother, and I am happy to report that the bedtime routine seems to be working. She no longer cries in her crib when we leave, and we all wake up happy and well rested.

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