I think this has to be my most requested blog posts and I get so so many questions about the details of Maddie's bedtime routine/sleeping patterns! The length of our babies nap time or bed time, is a topic we can't seem to get enough of as parents! And I think that's because there is such a wide variety of combinations and patterns that babies have! Every baby is different, some sleep a lot, some barely sleep at all, and it can be an absolute nightmare for parents that are surviving on little to no sleep! So of course we want to share our various tips and tricks to help one another out!! Because this is a BIG topic and I have gone into a lot of detail for you, this part 1 will be about our bedtime routine and sleep pattern, then I will follow up with a part 2 about the daytime naps! (Otherwise this post will go on FOREVER..!!)
I do feel very lucky that Maddison is naturally a sleepy baby, we've never had a real problem with it! Week 1 was a bit all over the place, as we were adjusting to life with a baby and getting to know our little girl. I think the longest she would sleep for was about 4 hours at a time in that first week. But 10 weeks on, Maddison now sometimes sleeps for 8-9 hours straight! Which is something I never expected to be blessed with. I thought full nights sleep were something I would never see again for a good decade becoming a mother?!
One of the biggest things that I think helps distinguish when it's time for bed for Maddie, is we have a clear bedtime routine. I am very vigilant with this and make sure we do the same pattern, every night, at the same time, to the best of our ability - obviously life sometimes gets in the way of this! But here is a breakdown of our current routine and timings...
Bath time (around 9pm)
We bath Maddie every night and have been doing since she was 4 weeks old. No matter what mood she's been in during the day, she is always happy and inquisitive splashing round in the water and bubbles! I really do feel like it helps her calm down and relax from the day.
Cuddle & chat (around 9:15pm)
We then wrap her up and have a quick cuddle while shes still in the towel (keeping her warm!) Then we all lay down on our bed and sit there chatting away to her for a little. We often get some of the most adorable noises and smiles out of her!!
Baby Massage (around 9:20pm)
Next, it's back into her bedroom, pop her on the changing table and get a nappy on quickly before any accidents happen - haha! I then do a little baby massage on Maddie's legs and feet, which she absolutely adores!! Now... I've not officially learnt about baby massage, and if an expert were to watch me, they'd probably say I'm doing it wrong!! We were given some cream for Maddie's dry skin at 6 weeks old, and when applying it before bed I kind of just made up a little massage routine... and she loved it!! So I've just kept doing ever since, and again I think it's something that she now relates to as "it's bedtime now".
Final feed (around 9:25pm)
Dressed in her sleep suit and scratch mitts, (we only put mitts on her at night - again which I believe helps her distinguish its bedtime!) I take her back into our bedroom to where her crib is, sit on my bed and give her the final feed.. Maddison used to feed from me and fall asleep on the boob, so once she'd settled and drifted off to sleep I would then carefully put her down in the crib and tuck her in. However because of my milk struggle, for the last feed before bed we now use formula to ensure she has had a good big feed! She then burps, and I pop her down in the crib.
Self settle to sleep (between 9:30-9:45pm)
Once tucked up in her crib, I give her the dummy as she loves suckling for comfort, and I then go downstairs and let her settle herself to sleep. Now this is something we've only been doing for the past 3 weeks. I tried it once as a one off to see if she would settle (as she was just wiggling like mad in my arms and kept getting distracted!!) 10 minutes later.. she was sound asleep! So, I tired it again the next night.. and it worked again! So now it's something I do every night and she's very good at just letting herself drift off to sleep alone now! I'm pleased we've managed to get her to do this, as I'm hoping it'll make the transition into her big cot in her own room easier if she's already used to settling on her own!!
At first I used to worry that 9:30pm was a bit of a late bedtime for a newborn, but it just works for us! As she gets older I plan to sneak that time forward little by little ready for when she's a toddler. I really do feel that bedtime should be whatever works best for you and your baby!! There is no set bedtime, as babies always have their own ideas and you just can't force it!! And there is no set routine to follow, it's your routine that suits your lifestyle and your little one. The routine described above is just what we've now established and seems to work for us all to have a good nights sleep.. I'm definitely not saying you have to agree/copy me!! I think (unfortunately) that's the biggest problem with parenting, there will always be that person who has an opinion on what you do and thinks they are an expert.. It's important to ignore those internet "mum police" who love to tell you that you are doing something "wrong" rather than actually trying to help!! You know your baby!! As long as they are happy and healthy, you do it YOUR way!
Maddison's normal sleeping pattern is 6 hours straight, so she'll wake around 4:30am, I'll change her and she'll have a quick half an hour feed on the boob, where she will fall back asleep! I then (carefully) pop her back into the crib for another 2-3 hours, so we are then normally up for the day between 7-8am. However, we have had a fair few nights now when she sleep straight through for 8-9 hours without the feed!! The first time that happened, I woke up so so panicked that I'd missed her in the night and slept through her crying - it felt so weird!! It's very rare that we have a night when she doesn't stick to her sleeping pattern.. I think maybe only once in the past 5 weeks has she strayed from her pattern and woken up twice during the night? Also I personally would never wake her up to feed.. My thinking is, if she's hungry, she'll wake. And if she doesn't then she clearly needed the snooze! But of course I will ensure she feeds enough during the day to make up for the hours at night. She's still putting on weight fine, so she must be feeding enough despite missing the nighttime feed!
Anyway this is what has worked for us! But as stated above, Maddison is a sleepy baby anyway and has a very relaxed temperament! So maybe that helps? I don't know! But I'm certainly making the most of the hours of sleep we are getting now, before the teething properly kicks in or we take a sudden turn and she decides to become a night owl!!
Stay tuned for Part 2, when I will talk about Maddison's day time naps.. which I have to say is a VERY different story to nighttime - haha!!
What are your nighttime tips? Is there anything you've found that particularly helps your little one sleep? I'd love to know! Feel free to comment below or message me via the social page! Love x
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