Some of these items were gifted to me as a thank you for inclusion in this post. All opinions are mine.
I’m a creature of habit. I like schedules, routines, checklists and predictability. So when I became a mom, I thought it would stand to reason that my children would like those things too.
Silly, silly me.
Shortly after my oldest son was born, I quickly discovered that babies could care less about my penchant for schedules, routines, checklists and predictability. Babies care about milk, poop and not sleeping, though not specifically in that order.
I spent many a tearful evening trying to lull my newborn son to sleep and not understanding why we couldn’t get his rhythms down. Was it colic? Gas? Hunger? Was he overtired? Overstimulated? Did he get a dud for a mama? Was it a combination of all of the above? I was so exhausted and frustrated with my lack of mother’s intuition that I finally decided that I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to consult the motherhood oracle: The grandmothers.
This was before Pinterest was a thing ya’ll.
What my discussion with the oracles revealed to me was that there are three fundamental components of a child’s bedtime and if you can execute these maneuvers just right, you’ve got the recipe for a child who will develop healthy sleep habits. Maybe not right away, but it will happen.
Fast forward six years and I am here to tell you that implementing these strategies not only cultivated many a restful night’s sleep, but also had my oldest (you know, the one who was impossible to get to sleep?) napping until the day before he started kindergarten.
So without further ado, here are my three secrets for a successful bedtime routine
As a new mom, bath time was EVERYTHING. Not only did it signal to my little ones that it was time to start winding down for the night, but it was a major time waster on those nights when the clock seemed to be stuck at 7:08pm. Even now, with two kiddos in the tub and lots more splashing, bath time is a terrific segue into bedtime.
Bath time is also a great time to engage with your little one and talk about their day – even if they can’t talk back just let. You can recount all of the day’s adventures, talk about their favorite tub toys and narrate what parts of their body you are washing! Sorry, but I just couldn’t help but throw in a little language development plug here. 😉
Massage & Cozy Jammie Time
Infant and child massage is such a wonderful way to spend some time being present with your little ones. When my oldest was an infant, he could lay on a bath towel for a solid 20 minutes while I massaged his chubby little baby feet and legs. It was a great way for us to bond and for him to wind down as our day came to a close.
Now that my kiddos are older, they still love getting foot massages after their bath and slipping into some cozy PJs. My youngest loves these super comfy ones from Finn + Emma.
They’re soft, organic, and made from eco-friendly materials, so I get to pamper my boys’ sweet skin and Mother Earth! Not to mention, they’re roomy enough that I won’t have to haul them up to the storage space in attic after just one season. Because God knows those attic stairs have it out for me. So basically these pajamas are literally saving my life.
And as an added bonus, if you start the whole massage time routine nice and early, you may raise up some aspiring masseurs, who need practice dummies!
After everyone (and yes, I do mean everyone. I don’t know about you but I cannot do bedtime in blue jeans.) is cozy in their PJs a predictable story time is the perfect bookend to the bedtime routine. In our house, this looks like two books, two songs, prayers and a hug and kiss goodnight.
You can put your own spin on this part of the bedtime routine, but be sure to keep it consistent! Reading the same number of books every night keeps you from ending your day with an argument over “just one more!”
I can confidently say that implementing these three strategies has helped keep our family on a consistent nighttime schedule for the better part of the last six years. And as far as I’m concerned, we we’re to keep this sweet routine going as long as my little ones will let us!