When the battle was won

Bedtime used to be a horrific affair.

At around three weeks old, once Frog “woke up” from her newborn slumber, she decided she didn’t much want to sleep at bedtime. She’d rather stay awake sobbing while her mother jiggled her around, tightly wrapped up in the fleece (and now nicknamed) magic blanket.

Baths were a nightly occurrence from the age of 1 day and 6 hours. Stories entered the equation a few months later. But the tears, oh the tears stayed around a good while longer.

If I could go back and revisit the me of this time last year, I’d shake her by the shoulders and tell her, “Don’t stress about it. Your baby will get the hang of bedtime eventually”. All that time worrying she’d need the nightly placatory boob sessions to get to sleep – what wasted time.

Frog is now 15 months old. She still has a bath and a bedtime story (her current favourite is Peace At Last), followed by some milk and a cuddle with Primark’s very best blanket of magicness. And then she goes to sleep. In her cot. Simples.

I know it’s not the same for everyone. I recently wrote an article about sleep and found out something like 50 percent of children in the UK still struggle with sleeping through the night at the age of two. And don’t get me wrong, we’re occasionally among that 50 percent, if Frog is teething or grumpy about some other mystery ailment. But on the whole, bedtime is now a predictably laid back affair, apart from the obligatory tears at being made to wear pyjamas to bed.

Of course I’ll never know if this is because we’ve done pretty much the same thing at bedtime since our daughter was one day old, or if it’s because we’ve been lucky and have finally been blessed with a “good sleeper”. I expect it’s the latter – as I’m loathe to take any credit for those “good” behavioural traits (it means I’d have to accept responsibility for the “bad” ones when clearly my daughter’s diva streak is nothing to do with me).

But I know if we do have more children I’ll try and stick to the same bedtime formulae of bath, story, milk, sleep. It’s worked this time and hopefully it’ll work again.

So what do you do to make bedtime as stress free as possible? What would you do differently if you could step back a year and begin from scratch? You never know, maybe it’ll encourage me to mix it up a bit and try something new. But I doubt it.




Filed under Baby stuff, Sleep

24 responses to “When the battle was won

  1. We do bath, story then leave rooms as fast as possible 🙂 It seems to work for us.

    We love ‘Peace at Last’, have you got ‘Whatever Next’? Thats my favourite! xx

    • I remember Whatever Next! I used to read that as a child myself, I’ll have to get hold of a copy for Frog. Leaving the room as fast as possible sounds like a good plan to me!

  2. My son is 6 weeks old and although he will go down at 11pm, we are trying every trick in the book for the earlier bedtime (and it’s working tonight) he also hated bathtime and then I tried immersing him wrapped in a terry nappy and now he loves it… turns out the boy just hated having everything hanging out!

    • That’s a genius idea – I think F was the opposite, loved being naked and in the water but hated the getting dressed bit afterwards! At 6 weeks, she’d have a bath and then start crying for about two hours as soon as she was out of the water. I thought we’d never get through that phase!

  3. We’ve always done the bath, stories, bed thing too! Not the milk bit tho! It really is the winning formula for getting babies to sleep, and gives you quality snuggly time together at the end of the day. Something else we introduced as the boys got older (now 5, 6 and 8yrs), is talking about our day, what we’d done and what our ‘best bit’ was. A chance to unpack the day a little and reflect on it. With the theory that as they get older, it provides an opportunity for them to talk about what might not have been nice that day too, if they want to! So far it seems to work well. Good luck!

  4. I’ve always stuck to the same routine too, dinner, bath, story, song and I skeddaddle out of there as fast as I can. Except mine? Never great sleepers. Still not, the three year old sleeps (now) the two year old… not so much. Plus now we’re in the “one more story, gotta pee, can I have some water, water, water” phase. Bedtime takes forever. I’m not so much a big believer of consistent routine working for kids as much as genes, the routines are for us parents so we feel some sense of control. or something.
    Also, am jealous of frog sleeping so well (but happy for you!).

    • I’m sure now I’ve written this she’ll decide bedtime and sleep is for idiots and start playing me up! I know exactly what you mean about the whole routine thing – when she gets grumpy at 5.30pm I know it’s not long until bedtime which helps me get through that difficult patch of the day. Apparently I didn’t sleep through the night until I was 5 years old, so it just goes to show how all children are different!

  5. Agree on the tellling yourself not to stress. I would say to anyone just do your best and eventually whatever phase they are going through will pass. Even good sleepers go through bad patches.

  6. You’re a brilliant endorsement of what I talk about at my Training your baby to Sleep workshops! I’m glad Frog is doing you proud, and giving you some peace at night-time!

  7. Not if you have more my love but when x

  8. So my ‘have a bottle of wine and ignore the screaming’ approach isn’t right then?

    (just kidding in case I get hate mail)

  9. Expat Mammy

    Bath, milk (in his rocking chair in his room) story (harry and the dinosaurs), teeth and then bed. We’ve used a sleeping bag on LPV since 1 months so he associates that with sleep now, he has he soody (dummy) and his snuggy (my T-shirt) and off he goes. i’ve been blessed with a good sleeper but I never take it for granted

    • You’re right to never take it for granted – I find as soon as I’m getting a bit too confident about my child’s sleeping habits she has to bring me down a peg or two and reward me with a horrendous night. Love that you son has a rocking chair in his room, that is so cute!

  10. Iyla was THE worst sleeper ever until she was ten months old and then she just started sleeping through – I though that was late but now I speak to a lot of people who have bad sleepers into their toddler years. I did sleep train her at 7 months but she was still waking up three times a night until that magic night. I know that next time, I will not be so quick to scoop them up and stick them on my boob all the time! I did it with Iyla before trying anything else – I think every baby is different but what you do with them can help / make worse the situation xx (I am giving you two kisses! lol)

    • F started sleeping through at around the same time. I remember thinking it would never happen but looking back, I realise that before that she just wasn’t ready. She was a hungry baby and needed her milk feeds in the night right up until the point she just stopped. I couldn’t believe it when it finally happened – but I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted! xx (two kisses back!!)

  11. I stressed with Isla too, we did all the jiggling and sssshhhhing and stroking! And this was all at the end of a lovely routine of dinner, bath, milk, stories bed. In the end the dummy did the trick but now we’re still trying to get rid of that! We swore we would not be doing the jiggling/ ssshhhing etc with Noah but i think we’re going down that slippery slope again……

    • We jiggled and jiggled and sang and shhhhed F – and I remember tearing my hair out thinking she’d never learn to sleep on her own. She used to get to a point where she’d be calm enough to put her in her cot awake, but it took a while to get there. We tried dummies too but she just spat them out, prefering her own thumb. I wish I could have had a crystal ball to see into the future and know the jiggling wouldn’t last forever!

  12. I often wish this version of myself could go back in time and tell new-mom Deb to take it easy! It took me a couple of months to realize that my baby was probably not nearly as frail as I feared, and not apt to be permanently scarred because he had to wait five minutes to eat.

    I’m very grateful to the nurse who suggested Ba.D. and I make sure the nighttime hours were spent in darkness, and that (after a couple of months) we not engage emotionally in those dark hours. Change diapers and the like, yes, but smile? Tickle? Giggle? Nope.

    I don’t know if it’s because of our efforts or because of who Li’l D is, but we’ve had a great sleeper for most of his two years. There was a bit of a setback when he started getting really cognizant and trying to push out bedtime, but we’ve since established he gets three bedtime stories and that’s that. By the time I read the last words of our customary third book, he’s climbing off my lap and into bed, where I give him kisses, get kisses and wish him sweet dreams. (He’s starting to wish this back, hurrah!)

    • Sounds like you have it sussed – I expect there’s many a jealous parent who would love such an easy bedtime! Some interesting tips there though, especially to keep the room dark and not turn nappy changes or feeds into playtime. We did that too (more for myself than anything, I couldn’t bear to have a bright light on when my eyes were so tired they just needed the comfort of the dark!).

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