Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's our bedtime routine?

The bedtime routine is one of the few things we feel in total control of as parents.   We chose it, altered in response to Cupcake's preferences, adjusted things that worked better logistically, and have arrived in a routine that we all enjoy.  Cupcake is happy, we have activities to do with her, and most importantly, she goes to sleep very quickly at night.  (Does she stay asleep? No, she still nurses at night, but one issue at a time, right?

We start some time between 9 - 9:30 pm.  And yes, that's late compared  to other kids in the US, but she wakes for the day at 9:00 am, so it's a non issue,  she's getting all the sleep she needs.   So depending on how tired she is, we either try to hold her over until 9, or sometimes we are having such good family time that next thing we know its 9:30 already and it's time to get her in her bath.

First bath, always with her dad.  This is their special  time to bond and play.

Next dry off and, put on diaper, and have baby massage with lotion.  I used to do this, but now Nate has been giving her the massage  more and more often. That way I can be cleaning or cooking for longer. Then she puts on pajamas.

At this point Nate will take her to the kitchen clock and tell her what time it is.   This is my sign that they're done,and I nurse her in the couch.  She has milk, sometimes lots, though lately she doesn't seem as hungry at night.

Then we read two books.  All three of us.  Sometimes only one of us will read if the other is busy, but it's such a fun family activity, we try to do it together.  We used to skip the book sometimes when she seemed way too tired, but now we have to read it.   Then about a month ago seemed to be sleep nursing and we made the misguided decision to go ahead and take her to bed, and he screamed bloody murder, and was not content until we read two book.  Yes, two.  It's pretty cute, she likes turning the pages, and has books that are obviously her favorite.

When the books are over, I give her a goodnight kiss and she goes to our  room with her dad.  He rocks her on a yoga ball (still), and she's out within 5 minutes. He sets her down on her crib, she turns to sleep on her side, and by 10 pm-ish we are done.

It's been really great.   She really knows the routine by now, and we've been able to leave her for the evening with my mom, who followed the sequence to a T and said Cupcake zonked out with no problem.
It's curious how she seems to get that it's time to sleep.  She's energetic and awake in the bath, then gets tired and cranky during pajama time, is about to pass out during milk, but wakes completely for the books.  We used to worry about the books taking her out of the tired zone, but it seems the exhaust the last bit of energy she has left, so by the time we're done with them she's ready for sleep.

Next goal, establish a nap time system that's as effective.

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