It’s 4 in the morning…
Your baby has yet to go to sleep, which of course means that you have yet to go to sleep. Last night your sweet little angel was asleep by 8 PM, so what the hell, kid?
If this sounds like you, rest assured, I’ve been there, too. (In the not-too-distant past, if I’m being honest). Here’s what my little guy’s sleep pattern looked like when I set out to track it:
He woke up around noon that morning. Then went to sleep at midnight. He woke up throughout the night at 1:30, 1:51, 2:55, 3:15, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11:20. Nope, that is not an exaggeration!
He was up for the day at 11:20. Then fell asleep at 12:30. He woke up at 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10. 11, 12:15, and 1:30. A little better, right?
He was up for the day at 1:30. Then he went to bed at midnight. He fell asleep around 9 PM but it was a false alarm, he woke up at 10 with no intentions of going to sleep. But finally fell asleep around midnight. Then he woke up at 1:10, 4:15, 6:40, 8:50, 11:15, 11:55, and was up for the day at 1 PM.
On and on I tracked his erratic behavior. This was so unlike my little guy. When he was three months old, he was sleeping a chunk of 7-9 hours straight, then eating, and going back to sleep for another 2-3 hours. I was in parental heaven. I was sleeping for 7 hour stretches! Oh. My. God.
But, right around four months, this started up. The dreaded sleep regression!? I feared so.
Now, I’m not about to pretend that I’ve found a fool-proof way to completely beat the four month sleep regression. But I believe that I have found a way to lessen its severity. A bedtime routine! If you’re wondering why you need this in your life and how to implement it, read on!
Why is a Bedtime Routine Important for Little Ones?
According to the experts, children thrive off of routine. It gives them a sense of safety and comfort. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby On the Block likens routines to coffee breaks. Our babies are so busy learning new things all day, and experiencing new things, that they need little “breaks”. For them, having a safe routine to fall back on is their version of a double espresso! This article goes into more detail if you’re interested!
In our case, implementing a routine significantly decreased my son’s nighttime wakings. We went from 6-10 wakings per night down to our current two to three. And the absolute only thing I changed was starting a bedtime routine.
How do I get started?
You can (and should) implement a bedtime routine as soon as possible. How’s tonight sound? Good? Great! What I would suggest is beginning fairly simply. When I started our routine, it was just dim lights, massage, breastfeed, bed. Since then, it has evolved to fit our needs, but in the beginning, we just kept things very simple. My biggest piece of advice is that you should listen to your baby. Pick a time when your child generally drifts off to sleep anyways. Start your routine a half hour or so before this time.
I made a simple, free Baby Sleep Log printable! An easy way to watch for emerging patterns. I highly suggest using something like this when you’re trying to nail down a sleep routine. It will help you understand your child’s natural sleep patterns, which makes it much easier to determine when to start your wind-down ritual!
What should I include in my bedtime routine?
It can seem like a big task, figuring out how to soothe your little one straight into blissful sleep. But I promise it’s not. Here are some general ideas for what you could incorporate into your routine. But honestly, anything that seems to soothe your baby will work!
- A story
- A bath
- A lullaby
- White noise
- Breast or bottle
There are some ideas to get you started. Let me know in the comments section: Do you have a bedtime routine? Has it helped? And what do you do? If you don’t have one, let me know if you plan on incorporating one soon! And if you found this helpful, be sure to share!