At almost 6 months old, Arliss is not getting as much sleep as she should. My (often sleep deprived) research suggest she should be getting between fourteen and sixteen hours of sleep every day. Yeah, not so much.
I started tracking her sleep -including naps- so that I would know where the problems are. Naps. Naps are the problem. And late bedtime. Some nights she has problems waking up too frequently. She rarely goes to sleep without being nursed.
Ok. So we know what the problems are, how am I going to fix it?
It’s important to understand that the less sleep you get, the worse you sleep when you can. Being sleep deprived triggers the release of all sorts of stress hormones that make it harder to fall asleep, harder to stay asleep, and harder to get deep restful sleep. So an overtired baby is in a negative feedback loop. Baby steps (no pun intended) are the only way to get out of it.
Our first step has been a solid bedtime routine. Since implementing it bed time has been much easier. Here’s what we do. Keep in mind that the times are approximate.
5:30 – I start getting everything set up. I lay out her bath stuff, set up her bed, refill the lavender diffuser, and make sure that my immediate needs are taken care of (bathroom, water, snack). That last part is important because if I need to pee I’m much more likely to cut her bedtime short.
6:00 – Bath time! Just a quick warm bath and a few minutes of baby massage. Then I get Arliss dressed for bed.
6:15 – Storytime. We sit down in my great-grandmother’s rocking chair and read Goodnight Moon and a nursery rhyme book. If she is cooperative, we read a few pages of a chapter book too. Having reading built into her bedtime routine means that even on the tough days she gets some reading time.
6:30 – Nursing to sleep. After we finish reading Arliss and I head into her darkened nursery. We set up on the daybed (where night time feedings happen), she eats, and I read my own book.
7:00 – Bed. She gets to eat until she is fast asleep, then I’ll rouse her just a bit as I get her into bed. I sing a quick lullaby once she’s in the crib, then tiptoe out.
The more consistent I am with the bedtime routine, the more consistent Arliss’s sleep becomes. We’ve gotten to the point where she’s asleep at or before 7:00 pm more than 50% of the time. It may not seem like much, but that is huge progress for us!