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Emily’s had a crazy bedtime routine ever since she was a baby. She started off sleeping in her swing and her bouncer for the first couple of months of life. Those were the only places that she actually slept, unless it was on my chest or my husband. Then she started daycare.
Glorious daycare! They started getting her on a napping sleep cycle. And even got her sleeping in a crib. So at home we were able to get her sleeping in her crib at night. As we progressed through toddler stage, she was in her crib and then a toddler bed.
For the longest time she needed a cup of milk to get help her get to sleep. She was used to a bottle and then a sippy cup. Eventually we weaned her off of that. Now it’s a couple of sips of water if she’s thirsty.
We still put a pull up on her at night, but we’re hoping to have her out of “diapers” before the end of the summer.
With all of this in mind, it feels good that we now have a routine at bedtime. We have certain steps that we follow each night.
Her nighttime routine starts right after dinner.
A little play to tucker her out …
Step #1. Play Time … After dinner, Emily gets a little time to play. If there was dessert, then this gives her time to burn off some of the sugar before bedtime. This also gives me time to get the dishes done and do other things before bedtime starts. We also fill up the tub during this time as well.
So fresh and so clean …
Step #2. Tubby Time … We do tubbies every other day. [It honestly was too much doing a tubby every day. Plus she’s 3 1/2 and doesn’t get sweaty and need to have a tubby every single day.] My husband is a saint and does tubby EVERY time. Unless he isn’t going to be home until late, then I take over. We let Emily have some time to play in the tub before it’s “bubbles” time.
- On nights when there is no tubby, we jump to Step #3.
Dental hygiene is very important …
Step #3. Time to Brush Teeth … My husband also brushes Emily’s teeth at night. Again, SAINT! [It is a part of their routine … daddy/daughter time that they spend together.] He’ll get her toothbrush ready, even though Emily loves to put the toothpaste on by herself. He brushes her teeth, and lets her brush some herself.
A few things during this step …
During tubby and teeth brushing time, I get a few things ready in her room.
- I make sure her humidifier is filled, and turn it on.
- I make sure her “alarm” clock is set on blue, and that the “green” time is set for when it is okay for her to get out of bed.
- Emily was having a problem with getting out of bed for about a month. She would get out of bed in the middle of the night and wanted to sleep in bed with me. She would say that she had a nightmare. When this happened every day for almost a month straight I knew something was up. She ended up fessing up that she was waking up and wanted to be with us. So she got out of bed and went to find us. I took some advice from my sister-in-law and got her a light up alarm clock. You can set it so that at a certain time every morning it’ll glow a certain color. We chose green. Green means go. So when Emily sees that the clock is green, she knows that she can get out of bed.
- I turn on her sound machine.
Jammie time …
Step #4. Pajama Time … Emily leaves the bathroom clad in her towel [on tubby nights]. She runs down the hall into her bedroom, all giggles. I scoop her up and give her a hug. Now it’s my solo time to get her ready for bed. She helps me pick out jammies … whether it is a nightgown or two-piece set. I also apply some Oilogic Slumber and Sleep Calming Cream to her belly and back. She likes to help out with her “cream” as well. We make it a race and it keeps her involved.
Let’s read a story …
Step #5. Story Time … After I am done getting Emily dressed, I let her play for all of a minute. I go out to the kitchen, letting my husband know that she is dressed. He goes into the bedroom and reads her a couple of short stories. While he does that, I get Emily a 1/8-1/4 cup of water … in case she asks for a sip of water. [I know doing this might be the reason she isn’t completely potty-trained yet.] When my husband is done with his stories, I read her a couple of my own.
Here are some of Emily’s favorite books:
- The Pigeon Series by: Mo Willems
- Example: “The Duckling Gets A Cookie?!“
- “Knuffle Bunny” by: Mo Willems
- “Five Minutes’ Peace” by: Jill Murphy
- “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” … Hallmark Itty Bitty Storybook version
- Llama Llama Series by: Anna Dewdney
- My Little Pony: 5-Minute Stories
- “The Magic Bunny” by: Paddy Comyn and Barry Sheehan
- “My Friend Bunny” by: Louise Tate
Emily really likes “The Magic Bunny” and “My Friend Bunny” because she has the stuffed bunnies that the books were based off of. The medium sized beige Jellycat bunny, and the little cream Jellycat bunny. In our house, they are known as Magic Bunny and Little Bunny. 🙂
I’ll take the snuggles when I can get them …
Step #6. Snuggle Time … When all of the stories have been read, it is then time for some snuggle time. At this point my husband has already left the room. Emily will only fall asleep if you read to her until she fall asleep OR if I lay down and snuggle with her (in her toddler bed) until she falls asleep. If it’s a night where the latter happens, I’ll lay down next to her and rub her back or sing to her as she falls to sleep. Almost half the time, I fall asleep with her.
It may seem like a big bedtime routine, but it’s ours. We’ll eventually wind it down. At some point she’ll go to bed by herself, she won’t want us there with her. She’ll want to read to herself instead. She’ll do everything herself. So for now, I will cherish these moments I have with her while I can.