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Establishing A Bedtime Routine With Your Baby - What Worked For Us

With both of our boys (Ethan now 4 and Logan now 2), we were lucky in that going to bed and sleep was never a constant battle, it was more that we just went through different phases when it came to bedtime.

I can remember during the tougher phases feeling a bit like I was going to break at times due to the lack of sleep. There was a time when we found ourselves in a phase of sharing our bed every night. And there was a time when we had to pick our youngest son up from his grandparents because he'd woke up at 2 o'clock in the morning and just outright refused to accept that he needed to go back to sleep. There were also times when I would feel consumed with Mum-guilt because my baby would wake up at night crying and we'd struggle to settle him back off to sleep.

But then I expect that at some point that's pretty much the same sort of story for all over parents of babies. I just feel very thankful that it didn't take us too long to be able to establish good routines and find an approach that meant the sleepless nights weren't too much of a long term thing.

baby bedtime routines, getting baby to sleep, controlled crying


Setting a routine

When finding what worked for us when it came to bedtime the first thing we made sure was that we were consistent and that we set a bedtime routine. The importance of routine was proven to us when our first Son was quite young and we didn't quite realise how much a change to his normal routine would affect him whilst we were on holiday. Whilst away we let him stay up a bit later and also come into our bed with us. Naively we thought he'd be fine going back into his own bed when we were home again.. but of course, he wasn't and what followed was quite a hard bedtime battle phase. So ever since then we've tried to keep to a good routine when it comes to going to bed.

Bath time was and still is every other night, we bath them in the evenings usually to help them feel relaxed and settled for bed. After bath time we use a bit moisturiser for any dry skin and also apply nappy cream, we do this especially at night when the nappy stays on for the longest to help protect against rash. We like to use Bepanthen because it's what works for us and we found that the boys never really suffered with nappy rash, its also very easy to use one handed (which is great for when your baby is a bit of a wriggler like my youngest is!). After that is pyjamas, followed by milk time and then teeth brushing. Then around 7 pm, it's time to settle down in the chair in their room for a cuddle and story time - we usually read them two books each and always have done. When the boys were younger, they would sometimes fall asleep with their milk which made bedtime a lot easier!

baby bedtime routines, getting baby to sleep, controlled crying,


Things to help baby settle

When it came to getting our boys to settle in their beds after they'd moved into the own rooms we found the Fisher Price Starlight Mobile to be a bit of a lifesaver, especially for our first Son Ethan. It plays calming music and also has lights that shine a relaxing light show. It automatically shuts off after 20 minutes or so which we found brilliant because it meant that we didn't have to keep going into their rooms like we would have had to with a wind-up cot mobile.

baby bedtime routines, getting baby to sleep, controlled crying

My boys also have a teddy each that they've had from birth. Logan has a rabbit and Ethan has a doggy and for Logan especially he finds so much comfort in his rabbit and sleeps with him every night. They both slept with dummies and Ethan gave his up at 3 (Logan still has his). And we used sleeping/grow bags with them both too for bedtime. I really like the sleeping bags because they are so much safer than loose covers are and also pretty good for when they are a bit older and can stand up it's far harder for them to attempt to climb out of their cot with them on.

baby bedtime routines, getting baby to sleep,

Trying controlled crying?

I believe that trying controlled crying is only recommended for babies who are a bit older. I personally wouldn't have used it when my little ones were really little, but when it came to settling Ethan into his own room and teaching him that bedtime meant bedtime, controlled crying really worked for us. The first night that we did it with Ethan, we went in after five minutes to check on him and to reassure him that we were still there, the next time we went in was after 10 minutes then 20 and so on until he fell asleep. The first night Ethan took just over an hour to fall asleep, but the second night it was 20 minutes and then the third night it was just 5 minutes. He was never left to cry it out, rather he was reassured that we were there but that it was also time to go to sleep.

I remember seeing such a change in Ethan after he started sleeping properly at night - he became a lot less clingy and he seemed so much happier in himself, other people even commented on it.

I know that people have different opinions on controlled crying, but for it was about teaching our boys that we have to go to bed at night. The way that I look at it is that it's a bit like taking them to school I guess - we wouldn't take either of our boys out of school just because they cried. We'd comfort them, reassure them and then come back at the end of the day. I think when it comes to bedtime routines and babies,  there's probably no wrong way or right way to approach it other than finding something that works for everyone. Babies need to sleep but equally, parents also need their rest and their sleep to be able to give their children their best the next day.

I'm definitely not a baby sleep expert, but this is just what worked for us. We still have the odd night of the boys walking up or not wanting to go to bed. But on the whole it's not too bad, the only thing that we're really dealing with at the moment is the 6 am wake up calls! I hope this has been helpful, I'd love to hear your top tips for settling your baby/getting them to sleep through if you have any. Have you found any products that really help to relax your little one just before bed? Or settle them back off to sleep at night? I'd love to hear from you, so please do leave me a comment below.

baby bedtime routines, getting baby to sleep, controlled crying

Thank you for reading. 
Alex xo

*This post has been supported by Bepanthen, but all opinions are as always, entirely my own.



2 comments

  1. Your routine is similar to ours. We did a bit of and still do some controlled crying with our Ethan too. Never more than 5/10 minutes but enough to let him know it's bedtime and he needs to sleep. Thankfully it's worked and now he only wakens if he's teething or unwell xx

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  2. Awww look at baby Logan. It's nice to look at these photos again isn't it? :)
    We also used controlled crying on Matthew and it worked a treat.
    Unfortunately it doesn't work on Chloe. She goes into a crying state and shakes and is nearly hyperventilating. We haven't figured out a way to get her to sleep in her own bed yet but she sleeps in our bed for over a month now. xx

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