This week, we have a very special guest post! Zach, Karen’s husband, has written an excellent tidbit on his experimentation in getting Ellie down for bed at night. He has become quite the bedtime expert in their household. We hope that you find some applicable insight. Enjoy!
The Bedtime Conundrum
Hello Where is my Epidural followers! I’m Ellie’s Dad and I have been asked to write a guest article about what has become my specialty in our family, getting Ellie to sleep at night. Shortly after Ellie was born Karen and I decided that since I couldn’t help out much with feedings that I would be the one responsible for getting her to sleep at night. As an Engineer, of course it turned into an experiment…. (you’ve been warned).
Key to any good experiment, I quickly figured out, is understanding which variables were at play and which I could fix to reduce variation and which I could not. Of course this is all based on a single baby sample size so what worked could have 100% been based on Ellie being awesome and super easy to get to sleep.
Bedtime – We set bedtime for Ellie to be 7 pm. Outside of a few exceptions we have kept to the schedule since about week 2. We feel this has been huge for getting her to fall asleep well and transition to sleeping through the night and in her own room all by about 4/5 months.
Routine – Along with setting the bedtime, we have stuck with the same routine at bedtime. This has slowly evolved as Ellie has gotten older and her needs have changed. It started out as prep for bed (i.e., diaper change, put pajamas on, put sleep sack on), then head to her bedroom and read books, and bedtime feeding. At this point, Karen passes Ellie on to Daddy, Daddy then gets her to sleep and puts her into her crib/bassinet without waking her up.
Full Stomach – Critical, if they are hungry when you try to put them down you have your work cut out for you. We learned this the hard way at first, we thought she was good and full because she had eaten an hour earlier, but it is crazy how fast they digest food!
Stable Environment – Once we enter the room she was going to sleep in we drop the lights and don’t leave that room unless absolutely required (aka BM or other messes).
Reading Books – We found this as a great way to set the tone, slow down the day, and indicate to Ellie that we are entering sleepy time.
Variables outside of your control:
Outside Noise – Guests, dogs barking, lawn mowing and car horns… keep your fingers crossed for good luck. Noise machines are a godsend!
Colds/Teething – Tylenol and Advil are amazing when they are old enough to be able to take it. Expect the transition time to be longer than normal, but just relax and enjoy the moment you have with your LO.
Your own schedule – I had awful luck if I ever had a nighttime conference call and I needed to get her down by a specific time. It’s like she knew that I had something else going on and reminded me that I don’t have control.
Your Little One – Everyone is different, figure out what works best for them to transition from rocking them to sleep to their bassinet/crib. For Ellie, I needed to rock her to sleep and have her out cold for a good 2-3 minutes before I could even think about moving. Once that point was achieved I would need to get up, while still maintaining the rocking motion and slowly work my way over to her bassinet. I would then reduce the rate of rocking as I slowly lowered her down into her bassinet. If at any point she would start to wake up I would quickly revert back to the previous stage before she fully wakes up. If she fully wakes up it was back to stage 1 of getting her to sleep (See Flow Chart)
Like I mentioned originally, this is completely based on my single test sample size, so if you have any tips or routines that work for you, please let the ladies know to help increase the sample size. 🙂 Until next time, enjoy your little one and hopefully this has been helpful!