Ever since we implemented a bedtime routine when Ethan was around 2 months old, our nights go pretty smoothly for the most part. For the first couple months of his life, we just let him sleep whenever and whereve he could – after all, him sleeping meant mommy and daddy sleeping! After a while, (and after getting used to the DockATot) we noticed he had begun to naturally develop his own sleeping habits.
He tended to want to take a nap every 1.5-2 hours, and would sleep around 12 hours per night, waking 3-4 times per night to nurse. Having a pattern really helped us to be able to schedule a day. Our problem though, was when he would go to bed and wake up was seemingly unpredictable. At one point, him and I were going to bed between midnight and 1 AM and waking up past noon! I knew I’d be going back to work in a few months, so this wouldn’t work.
I wasn’t a fan of sleep training or cry it out, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I couldn’t imagine forcing my little one to go to bed crying because I thought he needed to. So, we did two things. We gradually moved wake up time by half an hour each day over the course of a week and we created a bedtime routine. The bedtime routine is largely what I credit for getting our bedtime in line.
We don’t have a particularly complicated bedtime. Just a series of events we do in order every night with the idea that it ‘cues’ our little man to the fact that bedtime is coming.
When it gets close to his bedtime (between 6:30-7:30PM) and he starts showing signs of tiredness, we turn on soft lullaby music and bring him upstairs, where we change his diaper and put him into pajamas (honestly, this is the only reason I bother to get him dressed everyday – so putting on pajamas is part of his routine). I then rub lavender oil (diluted with coconut oil – purchase both from my doTerra shop here on the soles of his feet, and zip him into his sleep sack.
The three of us (me, daddy and son) will then climb into bed together where daddy will read a bedtime story while he nurses. I will then turn on my white noise phone app, my husband will turn off the light, and we would switch sides nursing.
Previously, I would lay down with him on top of me, and I would hold him until he fell asleep and I could put him down which was approximately 30 minutes, he would then wake up 15 minutes later (darn those baby sleep cycles!) Once he was down after that, he was usually down for the night, although there were a couple weeks I just couldn’t get him to stay down.
Recently though, I discovered I could nurse him in his DockATot and this has been a sanity saver! I find that lets go of my nipple a lot quicker when I nurse him on his back in the dock, and I don’t have to transfer him into his bed. I’m usually able to sneak away after he’s been asleep for 15 minutes, and most nights he puts himself back to sleep during that first sleep cycle. It’s great since I use the space after his bedtime to get in a workout.
He will usually wake up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to nurse, but I’m able to settle him right back to sleep by nursing him (in his Dockatot!). About an hour before his wake up time (7AM), he’ll fuss a little, so I’ll pull him on top of me, and we continue to sleep. The arrangement is working quite nicely for us now, and all three of us able to get a decent amount of sleep each night. And in the end, that’s all that matters.