I've tried my best to stick to a steady and predictable bed time routine since Surah was just a tiny baby. This has allowed for a smoother transition from a stimulated and provoked mind to a calm and peaceful mood, ready to phase into sleep. At almost 14 months now, she expects to be put in bed after a warm bath, baby massage, story time and end it with kisses and cuddles. If I let her, she will spend up to 30 minutes just under the shower playing with her yellow duck. Now I do not mind it all that much because I myself have always enjoyed long bath/showers (not to mention it takes me forever to wash my hair three times). But it can sneakily eat away time from my nightly "me-time" when I complete tasks that didn't receive any attention during the day.
So here is how her sleep routine looks like:
6:00 p.m.: Dinner
I try to schedule her dinner with us so we all eat together. I grew up in a family that was religious about this and I like the feeling of having all members of the family dine together. I appreciate that I have been blessed with a family to give me company while I eat. It is something I do not want to take for granted. I also breastfeed her at this time, on demand.
6:30 p.m.: Play
I let her play and walk around for at least 15-20 minutes to allow her food to settle in. I like to space out her dinner and sleep so she does not sleep on a full stomach.
7:00 p.m.: Bath & Massage
I give her a warm bath for approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on her level of fatigue.
Before I take her out of the bath, I make sure the room temperature is warm and soothing, all windows closed to prepare for a massage. I use two towels,one to dry her off and one to lie her down on for the massage. For the massage, I like to use a baby oil because I find it more soothing than a cold lotion. Now I do not recommend just any oil, be sure to read up on the oil you are using because it can easily transfer to their orals (i.e. suck her fingers or toes, from hair to eye etc.). The one I use and personally recommend is by California Pure Naturals , it is called Organic Baby Nourishing Oil . What I love about it the most is that it does not transfer onto her clothes or bedding whatsoever, plus it is made with certified organic ingredients and NO parabens, phthalates, GMOs, artificial dyes, petroleum and other harmful ingredients.
Baby massage not only soothes your baby but it stimulates their central nervous system, reduces fussiness and crying, aid in sleeping throughout the night and it is a perfect way for you to bond with your baby. I like to use this time to really get intimate with my daughter through face-to-face interaction such as counting her tiny fingers, kissing her nose or showing her how to brush her hair.
7:20 p.m.: Story-Time & Cuddles
I turn off all the harsh lights and put on her sleep lamp and begin playing a lullaby. (Preferably the same one so she associates it with night-time sleep).
Because she is so young and her attention span is short, I read only one book to not over stimulate her brain cells. I try to use a very soft tone when I read and like to keep a watch on her over-tired cues. If she is rubbing her eyes or seems to not have any interest, I cut story-time short.
7:45 p.m.: Sleep
Around this time, I make sure I cuddle and kiss her, let her know that mama loves her so very much and she can now sleep with a heart full of love. I quietly place her on her crib and allow her to sleep.
If she has difficulty sleeping on her own, I tap her and let her know that I am still here and if that doesn't work, then I lie down with her on my bed and hold her close. I feel so close to her when I do this, it gives me the greatest feeling and privilege to have her sleep right next to me.
Note:And NO I do not listen to any advice from anyone talking about building baby independence blah blah blah. I am a firm believer that every mom knows what is best for their child. If there is doubt, then try out different things and you will eventually know what works for your child. All babies are different, what works for one may not work for another, even if they are siblings. I think you should just do what feels right!
Featured: California Pure Naturals
I know I will be asked about the products I use for her massage or bath, so here it is. I have the Baby Gift Set that is on sale, and I think a little goes a long way. If like me, you are very particular about what you use on your baby then this brand is definitely one to look into. I prefer them over brands such as Honest Co.