I recently mentioned the dreaded phrase ‘bedtime routine’ on Instagram and have been asked by a few people how I’ve changed this to encompass the new baby. If you had asked two weeks ago I would have turned pale and been a quivering wreck at the thought of bathing and putting them both to bed alone (I also quite enjoyed my evening cuddles with the baby). When my first child was 7 weeks I started to do a nightly routine with her that worked so I’ve just copied this with Rory, sadly down to circumstances, my husband being in hospital, I just had to get on with it last week as I didn’t want to miss the window.
I’m no parenting or sleep expert, so please don’t think these are golden rules, but I’m happy to share what happens in our house come 6.30pm, as it seems to work for us as they are both pretty good sleepers *atm.
6.30 - Generally bath time post dinner most days
I tend to head upstairs with both kids and run the bath with Rory on a changing mat on the floor while I undress Liv.
I always pop a couple of drops of lavender oil in the bath water to relax them and set up the thought of sleep. I prepare Rory’s towel, nappy and PJs in the bathroom with me, I also shut the curtains in the nursery and our room at this time so that the rooms are prepared.
Liv jumps in the tub first while I undress Rory and then he goes in on a bath seat. Which I’ve found invaluable as it leaves my hands free to wash and play with her.
I use a lovely lavender wash on her, but I don't put anything on Rory's skin yet other than cradle cap shampoo.
Rory is out first after a quick wash and normally cries while I dress him, once he’s ready I pop him in Liv’s cot in the nursery while I do her teeth and get her out. Don’t be fooled it’s not all plain sailing, sometimes he’s screaming at this point....
Then it’s all into the nursery to put Liv’s nappy and PJ’s on, curtains are drawn and lights down low at this time.
Once she’s ready, which can take anywhere from 2 mins – 15 mins, we sit together on the floor with some pillows and I breastfeed Rory, Liv has a bottle (if she wants one) and I read two stories.
Rory is taken into our room and put in the Sleepyhead within the Chicco next-to-me-cot, in a zip up swaddle suit and dummy if he wants it. I also put the heartbeat sound on Ewan the sheep. Then the toddler gets put in her cot with her dummy, comfort toy and some lullabies on (I’ve used these since she was tiny) again she knows that music means sleeps time. Much like with hypnobirthing, I’ve found it’s all about building anchors, these tell the brain what state the body needs go into. So, the smell of the lavender, low lights, milk and the music all trigger the reaction that they know bed time/ sleep is coming.
I then leave them to both fall asleep, I read that it’s important to try and teach babies to fall asleep on their own so they learn to self sooth if they wake in the night. Again, I’m no expert but I’ve tried to do this with both kids, always putting them in their cots awake for day time naps and bedtime. Currently my two-year-old chats or sings, sometimes trying it on for an extra kiss and to get me to stroke her head for a bit before she drifts off.
That’s is, nothing crazy… I think I’ve found that the key is being organised. Getting everything ready before you even put the first child in the bath, so that everything runs smoothly. I also need to caveat that both my kids have dummies, before becoming a mum I would of sworn blind I’d never do this but that’s another blog post.