Alright so writing about this kind of makes me nervous. Let's keep in mind that there are so many right ways to put a baby/toddler/kid to sleep. The way we have chosen to put Gwen to sleep will probably make us sound like "pushovers" or "weak" to some parents (and non-parents). We were never successful at the whole sleep training/"cry it out" method. I just could not stand to hear my baby cry, alone, in a dark room. I think maybe if we didn't live in a townhouse with wall-to-wall neighbors, and maybe if Gwen ever had her own crib (instead of the twin mattress we used to share on her bedroom floor), then maybe I'd feel a little differently about it? But I co-slept with Gwen until she was a little over a year old, or whenever we decided to wean her at night. There were definitely some hurdles to get over that brought her to where she is today, but, from listening to fellow moms' stories about sleep struggles, I've concluded that there are always difficult things us parents must encounter when trying to figure out the best ways to put our kids to bed.
Here are the things I am so glad that Gwen is not dependent upon anymore when going to sleep:
-My breast milk: Thankfully this was the first crutch to go! Our breastfeeding relationship gradually ended after 19 months, and it's something that I'm rather proud of.
-Co-sleeping: I think my husband secretly misses co-sleeping because some nights he jokes that he's going to sleep in Gwen's room. It's adorable. Sometimes he does sleep in there....
-Milk/a bottle: I feel terrible about this one because we gave Gwen cow's milk before bed for soooo long before we realized it's what caused her eczema to flare up! She loved her bottles and didn't want to sleep without one.
-A sound machine: Ok, I don't know if she was necessarily dependent on this, but sometimes it did make putting her to sleep go a little smoother... even if it was only in my head. But we've stopped using it recently and she still sleeps all night, so win!
Up until a month or so ago Gwen would sneak into our bed in the middle of the night. It was kind of cute, but she hogged the bed! I thought that once the new baby was born we'd buckle down and have to send Gwen back to her room, since I intend to co-sleep with the newborn. After we came home from a couple of summer vacations, she just stopped on her own! And now we sleep all night without interruptions. It's a nice little break before baby boy arrives- then let the sleepless nights commence.
Alright, let's finally get on with our bedtime routine! Pictured above is Gwen in the bath. In reality, Gwen only gets like 2 baths a week. #conservewater
We started giving her fewer baths after the doctor suggested that it might help clear up her eczema, and now I buy all natural, expensive baby wash to avoid any flare-ups as well. *eye-roll emoji*
Does anyone feel like baths only make your kid hyper?? All the internet sleep tips tell you to give your baby a bath at night to help make them become sleepy, but Gwen just gets excited. That's another reason we do fewer baths. Sometimes she'll just have her bath in the middle of the day- because we get bored, so why not?
After a bath it's time for pajamas and a fresh diaper. This is usually the first step on nights that she doesn't bathe. Then she'll "read" book after book on her own, and nowadays we need to persuade her to let us read to her. She really likes looking at books on her own, lately. We each read her a few books before brushing her teeth.
To Gwen, brushing your teeth means playing with water.
Then we go back to her room and have a family prayer. She is finally starting to be obedient and reverent when we say prayers! I thought it would take another year before she understood.
My husband and I take turns putting Gwen to sleep- every other night. One of us will sit in our big rocking chair with her as she hugs a stuffed animal, we sing songs, and then rock until she knocks out (it usually takes maybe 10-15 minutes, sometimes less) and then place her in her toddler bed. I try to give her a different stuffed animal each night so she won't become too attached to just one. I'm happy that she relies on us rather than a lovey (lovie?) to fall asleep. And I know there will come a day when she won't need us at all to fall asleep each night.
Some nights are annoying, but I've talked with mom friends about their kids' different sleep habits, and I realized that it's completely normal to have that bad night once in a while. I'm sure I won't sleep properly again until all my future kids are school age... or teenagers? Or out of the house completely? I've only been doing this mom thing for 2 years, so what do I know.
I'm very curious to read these moms' different sleep tactics:
Kiana at Glitter & Donuts