Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bedtime for Baby

A post on a message board I frequent reminded me of how far Morgan has come developmentally. It seems like just yesterday she was a tiny newborn and now she's grabbing her feet and rolling over! Sigh.

The post asked for advice on bedtime routines. For her first month or two "bedtime" was somewhat of a far-off concept for us. We just made every effort we could to try to help her tell the difference between day and night and get her to sleep more than two or three hours at a time, especially at night.

In hopes of someday getting more sleep we did try to establish a bedtime routine fairly early. Morgan went to bed pretty late in the evening, around 10 or 11 pm. I really don't remember why that became the case, but we were still trying nursing at the time and I think it worked in with the schedule we had from the lactation consultant. Anyway, our "routine" consisted of a bath, applying calming lavender lotion, swaddling her, a final feeding...and hopefully, holding our breath, dare we jostle her even a little, we'd put her down in the bassinet to sleep.

At six weeks old, we moved Morgan to her crib. We had originally planned to keep her in our room until she was about 3 months old. But...there are things no one tells you about with newborns that you have to discover on your own. The strange and startling noises she would make in her sleep kept us on edge most of the night, making our precious sleep rather disturbed. When we moved her to her own room, she was still close enough so we could clearly hear her cries, but just far enough away that every peep and squeak was muted just enough.

When Morgan got bigger, and thus slept in longer stretches, we slowly started to move her bedtime up. I had read in my Baby 411 book (great resource new Mommies!) that the best time for a baby's bedtime is between 7 and 8:30 pm. So this was the goal and it probably took us about two weeks to get her there. Now we pretty consistently have her asleep by 8:00 pm during the week. Here is an example of our current routine:

5:00 or 5:30 - Home from daycare (depending on who is picking her up) - Playtime
6:00 - Bottle, play or hang in high chair or jumperoo while Mom and Dad eat dinner
7:15 - Bath
7:25 - Lotion/Massage, put on PJs
7:30 - Last Bottle
8:00 - Put in crib drowsy, falls asleep

We do have a lot of fun during this evening schedule. Morgan likes her baths. We talk to her and sing to her. Baths at this point are quick. Since we do them most nights we are also light on the soap because it can really dry her out in our climate. After drying her off we still do some lotion and massage. She makes the funniest noises and faces while we are doing this! She likes to play with her bath towel and is learning peek-a-boo. And finally, rocking her in the glider chair is such a sweet time as she relaxes and drifts off to sleep as she enjoys her bottle.

I'm curious how her routine changes when we start her on some solid foods next month. Its exciting, but also bittersweet as she is growing and changing so fast. We are doing our best to enjoy every stage along the way. How can you look at that sweet face and not fall in love again and again?!

Sleeping in her Sleep Sack

The "old days" of the trusty Miracle Blanket

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