People often say to me that I am lucky I have two children who love sleep. However, I beg to differ. I have purposefully set routines in place to ensure both of them sleep, there is no luck involved, it is all down to consistency. Establishing a bed time routine for Oscar as soon as possible was important for me for numerous reasons. First of all, having two children means that you can not really nap when the baby does, so it is important to get as much sleep as possible at night time. Secondly, as I was returning to university I wanted a routine to be in order in case I was not the only one putting Oscar to bed and lastly because I did not want to interrupt Milo’s sleep patterns as their bedrooms are next to each other.
Prior to Oscars arrival, we prepared Milo that Oscar will originally be going to bed after him because he needed feeding later into the evenings. Surprisingly he was so understanding about it which was amazing. After Oscar was born and we were home from hospital for good I implemented a bed time for Oscar which was 8pm. This was around the two week mark which coincided with when you still get heaps of visitors. However, I was not afraid to say to family and friends that they would not be able to visit after 7pm as Oscar would be put down to bed at 8pm.
At 7pm, Oscars bed routine began and that meant that Oscar was given a bath (in the sink), dried and massaged before having a bottle in the bedroom with a dimmed light as he was still in his snuzpod at this point. Even if Oscar did not fall asleep after his bedtime bottle, he would be laid down to promote self soothing, of which we did with Milo. Furthermore, ensuring that phones, ipads and computers were not used in the same room as they can increase simulation. During my pregnancy it was obvious to me that Oscar was nocturnal, of which I was keen to readjust after his birth.
Some people thought it was a little extreme trying to establish this at such an early age but I believed and still do that establishing a bed time at a young age can promote sleep. Conditioning my children that after a bath and when it is dark that means it is not play and singing time. It is time to rest and relax in your bed. If you do not want to go to sleep immediately, that is fine but it is time to prepare for sleep.
From 12 weeks old Oscar has slept through the entire night. Now at 8 months old he has outgrown his snuzpod so he is in his own room now in a big boy cot. Timings have changed slightly to adjust to Oscar’s needs so his bedtime routine begins at 5pm when he is bathed. I know research suggests that babies should have a calming bath but what are bath toys for? Following on, Oscar is dried, oiled and then given a bottle following on with a song. We have tried to introduce book time before bed but Oscar is normally so tired before bed it does not always work out that way. He goes to bed between 5:30pm and 6pm and sleeps until 6am-7am. It is nice Oscar goes to bed before Milo now so he gets some one on one time before his bed time at 6:45pm.
There has been an odd night when Oscar has woken up by myself relining his cover and when I have left he has cried for 30 seconds and gone back to sleep. Also, I have seen him from my handy camera during the night Oscar playing with his feet and chattering to himself but he has soothed himself back to sleep. At around the six month mark there was two days where I think Oscar could of stepped out of his routine if we let him (which I think was due to sleep regression). However, we believe in sleep training so we left Oscar to moan a little and he ended up going to sleep.
There has been a few occasions such as after injections Oscar has been poorly in the night time with a temperature when I think self soothing is not all it is cracked up to be. It can be quite distressing as Oscar does not fall asleep on me. He likes to fall asleep alone. So when he is poorly and I try to comfort him back to sleep, quite frankly it does not help and you begin to feel helpless. I guess what I am trying to say is that there are negatives to teaching your little ones to self soothe!
I have attempted to condition his waking routine as well. When I go to say good morning to Oscar, I go in and greet him with smiles and chatter whilst opening his blinds to let him know that it is morning time. Then I get him out and give him massive cuddles and kisses. He is usually such a happy boy in the morning and I think that is because he is well rested. I think this routine is just an important as the night time routine to ensure that if he does see me in his bedroom in the night time, but I am not opening his blinds, it is not time to wake up.
Nevertheless, I can understand that everyone has their own routines and as long as your routine works for you that is the most important thing. I introduced a bed routine earlier than people said I should of and earlier than all of the research suggests but it worked for my two children so and I would do it all over again if we have another one. Do not worry if people think you are silly or extreme, do what you need to do!