This is how we do it: bedtime

I have always been curious about how people live their lives, even more so now that I am a parent and thus constantly looking for ways to get through, if not improve. For the next few weeks – or until I get tired of it – I’ll be sharing (way too many) details about our life with a kid.

Jav is just shy of six months old.

Though we keep trying to push his bedtime back (and then remembering how miserable a tired baby is), we generally get him to bed between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. Every so often he’s falling apart so badly* that we get him to bed at 6; periodically he is in such a good mood that he’s in bed at 7:45. I cannot remember the last time we pushed it to 8 pm and didn’t suffer terribly for it.

So, bedtime. We’re surprisingly consistent with the bedtime routine, an unusual thing for both Joey and I, but we chalk this one up to straight up fear: mess with it a little, and you get it back in spades.

  1. Pre-bath we turn the lights down in the nursery, kick on the white noise, and click on the heater. We make the bottle at this point, too.
  2. Javi always gets a bath or shower — some form of water-dousing — before bedtime. Twice in the past six months we’ve skipped it; no bueno. I posted in detail about our bath strategy before so I’ll skip it here.
  3. Still wrapped in a towel, we head to Jav’s room and go through the diaper routine: dry off all the nooks and crannies, Beaudroux for the booty, a little dab of Vaseline on the boy parts, then a diaper. Note: we use regular diapers that are one size bigger overnight for the increased absorbency. Every so often (like now) he’s a tad too small to move up to the next size full-time but the current size is pretty snug… these are the times he leaks overnight. We put a Grovia diaper cover over his disposable diaper until his daytime size moves up.
  4. He wears footie pajamas and a fleece sleep sack (Halo with two-way zippers are my faves) most nights. If it’s really cold, he’ll wear socks under his footies. If his pj’s are fleece, I put a cotton onesie under it and use a cotton sleep sack or skip it altogether.
  5. I move to the glider and feed him his bottle while his dad reads a book. We read the same book every night: “I Am Not Going to Get Up Today” by Dr. Seuss, but we change the words to “I Am Not Going to Get Up Tonight.”
  6. Once he finishes his bottle, I move him to my shoulder to burp him. Though he’s sort of okay at burping himself during the day, at night it’s difficult because he’s flat on his back, so I look for one good belch or a series of toots before I lay him down. {Generally his dad is still reading at this point. If not, I sing the ABC song.}
  7. After burping, I stand up, lay him in his bed, pop in a paci, give him his blankie, cover his legs, and turn off the light.
  8. I walk out.
  9. If he doesn’t go right to sleep, sometimes it just means that he’s tired and needs to work out some energy. If this is true, he’s kicky kicking his legs and flopping his arms around but pretty quiet. We make ourselves stop watching him on the monitor (SO hard not to intervene) and he works it out on his own.
  10. If he’s making noise, it usually means he has a gas bubble, so I pick him up, squeeze him into a big hug, and it bubbles up (or down, ha). Back into bed he goes.

That’s it. On bad nights — like, after shots or if he’s stuffed up — he might yell for us a couple of times. Unless it’s obvious that he just needs some alone time to work himself down (and this would be rare if there was a good reason like shots), I’ll rock him until he’s asleep, then lay him down.

I try valiantly not to sneak out or move quietly or anything. Joey does, though. I figured if I close the door like a normal person, or flick off the light with a click, or make whatever night time noise is required, he’d get used to it, and he did.


All of that has been pretty much the same for a few months, but during the four-month sleep regression, we had more angst as the kid woke up over and over. Should we be CIO’ing? (I didn’t realize CIO is generally just to get a baby to go down, not necessarily to stay down longer.) WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG? Answer: nothing. My mom group reminded me that it would pass so I’d pop a paci in his mouth as many times as he asked for it and sometimes brought him to the guest bed with me. It sucked, but we got through it.

Now, when he was still waking up multiple times through the night to eat, we did not change his diaper every time (unless we smelled poop, but he’s always been a day time pooper). The routine then was: stumble in to the kitchen to get/ make a bottle, back to his room, into the rocker to feed the kid, sniff to see if he smelled like poop, move him to shoulder to burp, put him back in bed. Sometimes he’d stay, other times he’d cry and we’d pick him up and rock him until he calmed. Rinse, repeat.

Every other feeding we’d change him, which usually worked out to 4 am, which usually meant that I did the 4 am feeding because I could calm him better.

If he needed a diaper change, I chose to do that at the end; Joey preferred to do it at the beginning. I couldn’t handle a minute more of crying than was necessary. He couldn’t get Jav to settle if he woke him up.

Back then we also swaddled, so we’d put the sleep sack on before the feeding, then feed him, then move him to the crib (where the swaddler was laid out), swaddle him while he inevitably woke and cried his head off, rocked him in our arms until he settled a bit, then plopped him in the swing, turned that sucker to it’s highest setting, and walked out. I’m glad those days are over. If you’re in those days, try to have a routine but say don’t worry if every day feels like an exception.


That is almost 1110 words about putting a baby to sleep. Talk about overkill. Does anyone care about this or should I end the “series” with one post?




18 thoughts on “This is how we do it: bedtime

  1. I love this type of post! I think it’s really interesting to hear about how other people do things (and useful, as then you can steal ideas if necessary).

    And sleep is one of those huge issues when you have a baby, especially at first. I was totally obsessed with my daughter’s sleeping habits (because I was so tired!). Luckily now that she’s older it’s gotten a lot easier.

  2. No, please keep posting!! I’m 13 weeks pregnant with our first, and I have to move cross country sometime between 2 weeks and 4 months of baby’s age, and am already worried I’ll do it all wrong. For whatever reason, I let the moving psych me out and I worry that I’ll be even more incompetent than the typical first time mom. I am collecting all the advice I can find!

  3. What time does Javi wake up? I’d love if we could get our daughter into bed earlier. She’s always been a night owl and there were nights we were up until 4:00 a.m. in the good old days when she was a few months old. Now she goes to bed around 10:30, but she sleeps through the night until 9:00 or 9:30, which is great because I can get ready for work. (My mother comes to the house to watch her, so I don’t have to wake her in the morning unless I’m taking her somewhere.) I feel like everyone else’s child goes to sleep much earlier, though and of course i’m always wondering if I’m doing something wrong.

    • @Beth, He wakes up at 6 or 7. I took all the overnight shifts and he was staying quiet until after 7, but Joey feeds him as soon as it’s past 4ish so it has gotten earlier and earlier. This morning I gave in and fed him at 5 (he’d leaked so I couldn’t let him snooze anyway) and he went back to sleep until 830. Heaven!

  4. Which sleep books did you find most helpful? I have a five week old with sleep patterns that seem to change daily. I’m currently up at 4:15am because he has decided this is a good time to stay up!

    • @Cacey, The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program. It was a 15 minute, one time read, but it changed everything. But… At that age, my kid thought 4 am was party time too. We just accepted that we’d be up for an hour or 90 minutes at 4 and eventually, he started skipping that wake up. That’s the best part of that book – the idea that worst-case, you’re only up for an hour, which feels like an eternity when you’re exhausted but is ultimately survivable.

  5. This is so fascinating! I love hearing about the actual practical ways that people do things.

    “you’re only up for an hour” – you’re right, that doesn’t sound nearly as horrific as I was imagining.

  6. Keep it up. I’m expecting my first baby in March and this day in the life thing is great. I really nice little sneak peek into how you’re surviving and enjoying being a parent of an infant.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love these types of posts. There is so much that we as moms can share about what works for us. Everyone is different, but some things I could use all the ideas I can get – like for sleep! I would also love to hear about feeding – particularly starting solids if you have. We are just starting and I’m curious how other people handled it not only at home, but in having daycare start giving solids too!

  8. This is awesome. We’re trying to establish more of a routine with our 3-month-old, and I find step by step explanations like this to be super helpful (rather than the vague “you should have a bedtime routine in place by 4 months” advice. I KNOW that… what does that look like? Now I have one answer).

  9. I really liked this post. It’s helpful to see how others successfully get their baby to sleep. Right now, Bug has a semi routine and falls asleep breastfeeding between 9:30-11:30. The late nights aren’t so bad because he has been sleeping 7-9 hours straight these last two weeks and if he went to bed any earlier I won’t see him awake until the weekends when I go back to work next week.. Could you do a post on the return to work or how you make it all balance? I’m crazy nervous and I’m interested to see how a career minded mom like myself has handled going back. Are there any tricks?

    • @bakingabug, Sure, I can do a post. I’ve hesitated for two reasons: 1) my job is somewhat untraditional in that I work a full-time job, but on a different time zone and from home, and 2) I don’t want someone to find the details of my flexible schedule and complain. 🙂

      So, I’ll do it just because I think it’s valuable to know what working parenthood can look like in some industries, but I’ll try to be sensitive to the fact that most mothers don’t have the flexibility I do.

      Short answer: we wake up very early around these parts to hang out, take him to day care as late as we can, and save fun/ happy routines for that last 90 minutes we have with him (like baths and bedtime routines, which are really fun).

  10. Tgis is great. I am trying to establish some sort of routine with out almost 6 week old. The routine works from wake up to about 4 pm, but then it all breaks down. Yikes. Going to look into that sleep book.

    • @Karen @sugarspicelivin, Karen, that was a rough time for us, so we tried too, but it didn’t really click until much later. At six weeks, what IS bedtime? Put another way, which of the night sleeps is bedtime?? 🙂

      We instituted the bath, bottle, book (story/ song), bed, white noise, dim lights thing around six weeks. Like I said, it didn’t really click until later, but I think starting it then kept me sane. I didn’t clue in that things deteriorated for us because Javi was tired, not hungry or otherwise unhappy, so if I were to go back, I’d do “bedtime” at 7:30 or earlier, not 10-ish. Maybe thinking about it that way will help? Good luck. It gets better. I promise. 6 – 9 weeks was the hardest for me, perhaps because of PPD, but my husband agrees and he didn’t have PPD. 🙂 That sounds awful to you, I’m sure, but my mantra then was “just get to 8 weeks…”

    • @theKnest, I stopped swaddling in December (so he was about four months) because I got it in my head that it was time. Ugh. It wasn’t really time, but since he was waking up multiple times a night anyway, we got the transition out of swaddle AND out of the swing out of the way all at once.

      Because he sleeps flat on his back, no swaddle, at daycare, I think we had less of a transition than if he got swaddled for every sleep. Perhaps you can start by leaving one arm out or something?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s