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In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God created light. But He did NOT create good sleep for my baby.
It’s okay, we survived, and now I have some experience that will hopefully help someone else in the future.
Now, let me set the scene a little bit. For the first nine-ish months of my son’s life, I got no sleep. As in, he went into some sort of mutant sleep regression at about two months and didn’t get out of it until about nine months. I spent my nights nursing him back to sleep, would fumble my way through work, then come home and maintain my sliver of hope that “tonight could be different.”
It never was, but now we’re in a brand new season of life. After my son finally started sleeping through the night consistently, he slowly started to enjoy bedtime.
No more are the evenings fighting him into his crib.
No more are the sleepless nights that seem to never end.
No more (mostly) are the overly exhausted days with obvious mental degeneration.
Nope. I’m going to lay out what we do each night so that maybe, hopefully, someone can benefit from what we’ve learned. Most of these suggestions are mentioned over and over again by mommy bloggers, kid-raising websites, and the like, so that should tell you that these methods really work. I know the struggle of dealing with a child with a grudge against sleep, so here’s what works for my toddler (and in fact, many others):
- White noise
White noise! White noise! White noise! This is preached everywhere on the internet as an additive to a good sleep routine for your baby. In fact, it’s a good solution for adults as well. White noise (particularly deep, rumbly, white noise) creates an even “mask” of sound that covers up small sound variances. These variances can be picked up especially easily by light sleepers (babies) and those who are in the early stages of falling asleep (recently put down babies). You want to give your little one the absolute best chance at having a good, solid night’s sleep, so why would you withhold something that has the potential to help so much? We don’t. We received an Echo as a Christmas gift one year, and having no other efficient use for it, stuck it in Lincoln’s room and now tell her to play “brown noise” (the deep, rumbly happy baby Echo version of white noise) each night.
On another note, my inner sceptic comes out and questions whether those who sleep with white noise become dependent on it, and if the constant sound can actually damage hearing. The answer: no and maybe. Becoming “addicted” to white noise isn’t really a thing – and if you’re worried about it, you can always wean your baby (or yourself) off of white noise in the future. I, for one, used to sleep just fine without white noise. It wasn’t until I started living with someone who wants it to sleep that I started preferring it as well. As far as hearing damage, 50 decibels is the limit. We downloaded a decibel meter on my husband’s iPhone to measure the noise level with the Echo on. If it exceeds 50 decibels, either turn it down or move it further away from your baby’s crib.
2. Complete Darkness
One of the many things we invested in to decorate our son’s room was a good pair of blackout curtains. These curtains are the exact ones we have in Lincoln’s room, and they’ve been great. In the summer in East Texas, darkness doesn’t come until much later than Lincoln’s bedtime, so blackout curtains are a must since they block out an incredible amount of light, and are actually cute.
Darkness is especially important when your baby is very young. At about three months of age, melatonin production begins. Keeping a dark room at bedtime triggers melatonin production, which makes us ready to hit the hay.
3. A Consistent Bedtime Routine
Another thing I found all throughout my research during my middle of the night desperation sessions was the importance of a consistent bedtime routine. For us, that looks like a bath at 7:00, reading (several) books, and down in the crib at 7:30. Since we perform this routine like clockwork, Lincoln knows what to expect, even if he isn’t really ready to stop playing. Since we’ve been doing this for so long, we don’t get resistance out of him, however I can see how starting a bedtime routine when there isn’t one already established could cause quite the upset. Even still, I would encourage anyone looking to establish a routine to keep at it. Kids thrive in an environment with structure, so once they get used to it, it’ll be second nature. I genuinely feel that our bedtime routine contributes significantly to how well our toddler sleeps each night.
Yes, our little guy still sleeps with a pacifier at almost two years old. During the day, we say “bye bye!” to them, but at night they reign king. Weirdly, Lincoln didn’t even take a pacifier until he was about six months old, and now it’s hard to get him away from it. However, according to his dentist, pacifiers aren’t an issue until he gets older, especially since we just use it at night. We’ll have to have a hard discussion with Lincoln in the future about giving it up, but for now, we’re taking advantage of the extra nighttime soothing. These MAM pacifiers have been the only ones Lincoln will use.
5. Having Grace
Sometimes, the kid still wants Mommy or Daddy to rock him to sleep. Our little boy will only be little for so long, and those days are disappearing faster and faster each moment. If Lincoln doesn’t want to lay down and go to sleep, nine times out of ten we will go to him and avoid a cry-it-out approach. This doesn’t happen often, but if it does, we embrace the need and cuddle our boy, because he won’t want to cuddle forever. Give yourself grace and remember that YOUR CHILD WILL SLEEP.
I want to hear it from the other mamas out there. What is your routine for your child? Mine is nothing revolutionary, but if any information I can throw out there helps someone, then it’s all worth it. Comment below and let me know if you have any advice to share!