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Almost a year ago when Ethan was around 6 months old, I wrote about our typical baby bedtime routine. As much as I wish I could say the same thing continued to work for us for over a year; unfortunately (as most parents know!) just as we get into a groove, things change.
We start quiet time at around 7 PM by going upstairs into our room. If he’s in a good mood we’ll pick up toys together before making the trek upstairs, but at 19 months, it’s often him watching me pick up his toys (while he tries to get out more). Once we’re upstairs, we’ll get ready for bed together. We’ll change into an overnight diaper and he’ll choose his jammies (given two choices). We’ll brush his teeth and hair. Sometimes we’ll turn on soothing music, sometimes we’ll relax in silence. During the rest of our time, Ethan can do anything he wants in as long as its quiet. Most often we will read a few stories or do a puzzle together.
At 7:30, we’ll call my husband (and recently baby sister) upstairs to read one final story together. Ethan will pick out a book and we’ll all climb into bed together.
After the book is over, we’ll turn on our light machine to cycle red (we have this one from Amazon – affiliate link) and turn off the light and do the ‘night night dance’. My husband and I will hold the kids while we sing them a lullaby (usually twinkle twinkle little star) and sway with them back and forth. My toddler absolutely loves this and it really helps him wind down.
A quick note about our sleeping arrangement. We all sleep in the same room. We have a queen bed with two cribs on either side – one for our toddler, and one for our baby (both have Dockatots in them – the greatest thing ever. See my full DockaTot review here). The kids are allowed into our bed at either time – Ethan usually gets up around 1 AM and crawls into the middle to snuggle in to me. It’s the best of both worlds for us, the kids have access to us whenever they need, and sometimes I get a few hours of touch free sleeping done.
We’ll then climb into bed together. If he’s still pretty wound up, I’ll allow him a few more minutes of quiet play – this time in the dark. Most of the time, he is ready though, so we’ll snuggle up together and watch the wave light. Sometimes we do this in the big bed, sometimes he’ll crawl straight onto his side of the bed. Sometimes I’ll recap our day (with every boring detail) in a whisper, sometimes I’ll sing him a lullaby, and sometimes we’re both silent.
Ethan usually falls asleep in about 20 minutes – sometimes quicker, sometimes longer. Sometimes I fall asleep waiting for him to fall asleep. I won’t lie – I much prefer when he falls asleeo quick and I can slink away for some much needed me time (these days that me time is spent with a newborn), but I try to stay patient on days that take longer too. He’ll only need me this much for a little while – and I’ll miss it when he’s older. Some days are harder then others though.
Not every night goes smoothly of course – sometimes we get home late, sometimes Ethan’s tired and grumpy – so grumpy that he doesn’t want to sleep. We try to be flexible, gentle and firm and do the best we can. Sometimes story time doesn’t happen, sometimes our night night dance is cut short. We all do the best that we can.