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Pssst….start it as early as Day 1, if you can!
There are plenty of opinions out there on the best way to get babies to sleep. Figuring out what works best for your family can take some time and many sleepless nights. In our case, the BEST bedtime routine decision we made was putting our daughter to bed while she was still awake. Fourteen months later, I am so incredibly thankful that we started this early on.
How it Works
It’s pretty self-explanatory, putting baby to bed while awake, means just that. You establish a bedtime routine (bath, nurse, books, snuggle, etc.) that gets baby sleepy. You want the routine to be predictable, so that eventually, the routine itself will make your baby sleepy. After you’ve gone through all of your bedtime steps, lay baby down while she’s still awake. Baby may fuss a little or a lot. You are the parent and can decide how to soothe your baby.
We typically just made sure that Piper had her pacifier and would use a sound machine that said, “hushhhhh,” over and over. You can find one HERE. Piper always responded well to that noise. If she got really upset, we would go in and hold her for a few minutes and then lay her back down. I would trace her forehead and nose, which almost always put her right to sleep. Some will say that you aren’t supposed to pick them up when they fuss, I did. You do what works for you.
Why is this the “BEST bedtime routine decision” ever?
INDEPENDENCE! “FREE” TIME! STRESS-FREE BEDTIME! By giving your child the opportunity to fall asleep on their own, you allow them to develop the skills needed to entertain themselves until they fall asleep…independently! Most nights, we lay Piper down and she plays with her feet and talks to herself until she falls asleep. Or she’ll roll around, play with her paci, and look at a book (some nights she wants to take one into her crib with her). There are some nights that she plays in her crib for half an hour before she falls asleep.
The great thing for us is that we don’t have to entertain her in order for her to fall asleep and it gives us some “free” time to get stuff done (cleaning, work, relaxing, reading, whatever we need that night). Some nights I get a couple hours between her bedtime and mine. That gives me a lot of time to work on the blog and decompress at the end of the day. Notice there isn’t any cleaning listed in there…if you read THIS post about deciding to become a stay-at-home mom, you would know that cleaning is at the bottom of my list right now.
No more challenging bedtimes…
I hear people talk about how hard bedtime is for them and I don’t know if we just got an easy baby or if our decision to let her fall asleep on her own is really the cause. Most nights, we just lay her down and walk out of the room. She’s not crying and I’m not feeling guilty. I am not one that can just let her cry it out. I know that works for some people, but that causes me waaaaaay too much anxiety. The fact that she is happy and falls asleep on her own makes for a stress-free night in our house.
Now, I won’t lie and say that she never cries or she never falls asleep in our arms. The crying is few and far between, mostly when she is in a leap or struggling with teething. Those nights, we do extra snuggling, nursing, and visits to her room to calm her. See above where I said I can’t just let her cry. These days, it’s rare for her to fall asleep in our arms (which is actually really sad). When she does, though, we typically just transfer her to her crib with no issue. If she wakes up on us, then we might be in trouble because it is much more difficult to get her back to sleep then.
Try it for one week!
If you’re going to try it, you have to commit to at least a week before giving up. One or two nights isn’t going to work because baby won’t be used to this new bedtime routine. A week may not even be enough time, but at least commit to that much. Think about a crying-free bedtime. Think about the freedom to just put your baby to bed and leave the room. You won’t be stuck rocking a sleeping baby until they are “really asleep.” Don’t get me wrong, I loved rocking Piper as a tiny baby or letting her fall asleep on my chest and I would give anything to get a few more of those days back, but I never did it at bedtime. The independence your baby gains will also help when they are older and you need to cook dinner or do the dishes.
Good luck! Please feel free to let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear about your results.