I’m always really intrigued to know other peoples bedtimes routines with their babies and toddlers. It’s good to get tips from each other and hear about what works and what definitely doesn’t. We’ve had basically the same bedtime routine with Darcie for what feels like her whole life but it has of course developed and changed as she has. At nearly eighteen months she is still not a fantastic sleeper, but when you’re that cute already, why would you need any more beauty sleep? However I am really happy with our bedtime routine and she does generally fall asleep easily, even if she does then wake in the night, although this is improving in leaps and bounds these days. I do use the term ‘routine’ loosely as I take a very baby led approach and so our days do vary depending on her and also on what we might have done that day or be doing that evening.
Our evening ‘routine’ begins with dinner time anywhere between 5pm and 5.30pm. If Dan is home from work we like to eat together but most days she does unfortunately eat before us. I try to cook her something that I know she will eat in the evenings because having a full tummy definitely helps her sleep better at night. She has been going through quite a picky stage recently and so I am currently sticking to the old faithful meals in the evenings and saving the more adventurous foods for lunchtime. By the time she has cleared her tray, either by eating the food I have lovingly prepared, or by throwing it across the room, it is usually around 6pm and then we head straight upstairs to give her a bath. She is almost guaranteed to be filthy by this point in the day and so a bath is an everyday occurrence for us, although that doesn’t always include a hair wash. I try to only wash her hair approximately every three days although sometimes it just needs doing, for example if she has had an ice lolly or decided to roll in many muddy puddles that day. If I do wash her hair I dry it off as much as possible in the bath and then give it a quick blast with the hairdryer when she is out, otherwise it takes a long time to dry and she isn’t as comfortable going to bed with damp hair.
Darcie absolutely loves her baths and so will usually spend up to half an hour splashing around and playing with her toys. It’s a good way to keep her happy but also to ensure that bedtime doesn’t become any earlier than necessary, if she’s asleep anytime before 6.30pm, she will absolutely be up at 4am the next day! ‘Sleep is for the weak’ – Darcie Street. I also brush her teeth in the bath while she is happy and distracted. Once she has had enough of the bath (or it has gone totally stone cold, whichever comes first) I wrap her up in her hooded towel with another one wrapped around her for extra cosiness and take her through to her bedroom to get her dressed for bed. I put her in a fresh nappy and clean pyjamas and give her her dummy, as she is usually tired and agitated by this point if she doesn’t have it. At this point I dry her hair if she needs it and call Daddy up to say Goodnight, we never skip this part of bedtime!
I recently stopped breastfeeding her and now she has coconut milk before bed. Dan always brings up her milk and so once he has said Goodnight, I zip her up in her sleeping bag and go over to sit on the sofa with her. She drinks her milk while I read her a short bedtime story, at the moment it is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Once the book is finished I hold her and hum Truly Scrumptious to her while she finishes her milk and drifts off to sleep. I then put her down in her cot and creep as quietly as I can out of the room, but being the clumsy overtired Mum that I am, I usually manage to trip on something or drop something as I go!
So that is our bedtime routine. I know some people will have read that last paragraph in horror and be thinking ‘you still cuddle your toddler to sleep?’ ‘rod for your own back’ ‘you’re too soft’ etc etc etc… but it works for us, for now and so that’s all that matters. Darcie has recently started to put herself to sleep at nap times and so I’m sure that this new skill will soon extend to bedtimes too, so for now I’m just enjoying the cuddles and not rushing her out of this stage before she is ready.
I’d love to know what you love about your bedtime routine and any tips you might have for anyone struggling to find their perfect routine.