Our wonderful Ollie has been with us now for almost four months now and his bedtime routine has always been something I’ve tried to stick to religiously.
Since week two, Myles and I have tried to establish a healthy bedtime routine for our little man. We found that a nice routine helped Ollie to relax his body and mind, have some down time and ultimately fall asleep easier and for longer. I’m a big believer in structure and routines for children, not only does it help them to understand what is about to happen next, but it also helps to make them feel secure and safe. Exactly how we want our little man to feel.
Creating a consistent routine means that we’re creating positive sleep associations for Ollie too. I’ve also read that a good bedtime routine can improve social, emotional and cognitive development. Meaning children who sleep well have overall better attention, behaviour, learning, memory, emotion regulation, quality of life and mental and physical health.
Ollie’s Bedtime Routine
The routine really starts in the early evenings around 5.00pm. I always try to make sure he has a good half hour kick about on his play gym. This really helps to shift any trapped wind (he’s a very windy baby) and burn off some energy. This is then followed up by a cat nap that usually is around 20-30 mins, sometimes he sleeps a little longer if he’s not napped much in the day, but I make sure that it lasts no longer than 40mins.
At 6.30pm, Myles runs Ollie a bath and I undress him and plonk him in for bath time with Daddy. During this time I prepare our room by shutting all blinds, getting his pjs ready and making sure he has a fresh towel whilst Myles washes him and interacts with him in the bath. We try to make sure his baths be no longer than 10-15 minutes as we’ve found that any longer than this, he cries when getting out as he’s acclimatised to the warm water and feels a chill when lifted out.
I wrap him in a towel and we go into his nursery to pat him dry. I pop talc in all his creases and crevasses and apply sudocrem on any sore areas before popping on a fresh nappy.
Unfortunately, Ollie suffers with eczema very similar to mine. He gets rough patches all over his arms and legs, so I always massage in Child’s Farm baby moisturiser into his skin before dressing him. It’s actually really helped to help soften up those patches and stop it from looking so raw and itchy.
I massage his whole body and then focus on massaging his belly in a clockwise motion to help move any wind. Apparently you should massage the belly in a clockwise motion as that’s the way our intestines work. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but it certainly helps to get those trumps out!
After he’s dried and massaged, we dress him and lay him back down to do leg exercises such as bicycling his legs and moving them up and side to side. Again helping to shift wind – can you tell we’ve had a few rough nights with him struggling to fart all night?
He then gets a quick cuddle with Daddy and that’s when we sort of say our na’nights with kisses and hugs.
He then comes into our room and we are now very quiet and it’s made as dark as we can possibly make it in there. He’s put into his sleeping bag and then breastfed for as long as possible for a full belly to sleep on. He has never been one of these babies that feeds from one boob then the other, so once he’s done, I burp him and give him his dummy to let him settle in my arms.
The next part is very important to our routine.
I do not let him fall asleep in my arms, only get very sleepy. Once his eyes are extremely heavy, I then place him in his cot awake, but very tired. We both exit the room at this point and let him drift to sleep himself. Sometimes he’ll stare for a while before finally falling asleep, sometimes we have to go in a few times to put his dummy back in, but usually he just closes his eyes and he’s out for the count.
He always falls asleep at (or very close to) 7.30pm! His body clock has synced with his bedtime routine and he just naturally knows that is sleep time now. From 7.30pm, he wakes up around 12.30am/1am which is amazing for us as we can have our downtime together downstairs and all important couple time and then go to sleep knowing exactly when he’ll wake up for his first night feed.
He still wakes around 3.00am and 5.00am before finally starting the day at 7.30am, but it’s so much better than waking every hour like he was doing at one point. It’s taken a lot of fine tuning but it works!
The whole routine from bath, boob, bed takes just one hour. We try to keep it short and sweet and try to stay calm and use soft tones to keep the mood. Dragging it out makes him overtired and harder to settle.
We found that making sure he has that 5.30pm nap, aids in helping him to drift off easily as he isn’t overtired and trying to fight sleep. Skipping on that nap makes life so difficult, he won’t settle himself, he becomes very irritable and difficult and it is ultimately very stressful for us all.
We’re still working on sleeping longer between 1am and 7.30am, but for now we’re so happy with his sleep progress. I honestly think that without his routine for bed, he would be so much harder to settle and extremely unpredictable. It’s actually one of my favourite times of the day, Ollie loves the bath, Myles gets proper one on one time with him and then we get all the smiles before cuddling our sleepy boy and letting him drift off into dreamland all by himself.
Hopefully in the next few months we’ll be able to get rid of the dummy as a sleep association and he’ll knock off another night feed, which will let us have some much needed sleep. Fingers crossed!
Thanks for reading,
Love Charlie x