A few of my friends have kids around the same age as Harlow and sleep is a topic we are constantly talking about. When Harlow was about 4 months old and I had just gone back to work, she was waking up 4-5 times a night. It was a total nightmare and I was literally a walking zombie. I went to the baby store and bought the aquarium thing which seemed to help for about two weeks. I am still unsure how I feel about it because it DID help most times, but the batteries died every few days which was really frustrating when we needed it in a clutch situation. Then, as a last ditch effort, I googled the Ferber method books on Amazon, read the reviews and figured I had enough information to navigate the whole crying it out thing. I swore up and down I would never do it, but you know what, it worked like a charm and I’ve never looked back. I was so tired and desperate when I googled the book, I never actually read it, only the reviews, so I like to tell people my sleep training method was the Mahoney-Ferber method. It’s not to say we didn’t regress sometimes, but for the most part, she has slept through the night every since.
Now at 16 months old, Harlow is an excellent sleeper (I hope I don’t jinx myself by writing this). I actually have to credit daycare for this because she goes and goes and goes while she is there, which leaves her totally exhausted by the time she gets home. She is on one nap a day (and has been since 13 months), from 12-2 ish (sometimes longer) and then bedtime is around 6:30 or 7.
I think the key for us is a consistent schedule and routine (which she is obviously receiving every day at daycare as well). I pick her up around 5pm every day. We come home and eat dinner which is immediately followed by bath time. After bath time, we pick out her outfit for the next day, brush her teeth (sometimes successfully, other times not so successfully), then we start relaxing by reading books. She currently love, loves reading so we spend a good 30 minutes + reading.
Once bedtime nears, I grab her sleep sack (we don’t do blankets yet since she does 360’s in her crib all night long) and I let her snuggle it for one or two more books. (As a side note, we bought a zipadeezip when she was 4 months old, and I swear by them. So worth the money). From there, I put her sleep sack on, turn the lights off and sing her a song quietly. After lots of kisses, I put her down and off to dreamland she goes. Most nights, she goes down successfully, but if I try to get her in bed too early or if she hasn’t fully winded down, it is a total shit show and she will cry and cry. So it’s all about playing my cards right and reading until she is sleepy without letting her get to an exhausted state but not trying to force her down too early.
By following the same routine around the same time every day, she knows what it is leading to. A happy, sleepy baby = one very happy mama!
For reference, her daytime routine is as follows:
6:3oam (ish): wake up & breakfast
7:15am: drop off at daycare – play inside with blocks and puzzles
8:ooam: varies by day at daycare, but it involves mat play, reading, singing and learning new things
9:ooam (ish): snack time
9:30am: play time outside
11:00am: lunch time
11:45am: prepare for nap time
12:00pm: nap time
2:30pm: (Or when they wake up) snack time
3:00pm: more mat play, learning, sensory activities, painting etc
4:00pm: outside play
The activities vary by day, but this is the rough schedule that is followed each day, during the day which absolutely contributes to a successful bedtime!
And I know I sound like an asshole by saying we just read some books and voila, off to sleep she goes. I know. Trust me, it wasn’t always like this. And there are nights where I need to sit by her crib for 20 minutes because she is so attached to me (or Ciaran) and just wants us around. We struggled for a very long time with sleep. Sometimes we regressed because we just couldn’t resist snuggling her to sleep. As much as I love baby snuggles, it wasn’t consistent. And on the nights we wanted to just put her in her crib, it was unsuccessful because she wanted to be snuggled to sleep like other nights. We also used to let her play with toys or play outside in the backyard after bath time which threw her off, got her all amped up and made for some rough nights. Once we stopped that, our good sleep routine was back on track. Consistency is key.
So if you are struggling with sleep, I would start with establishing a routine. Even if you can’t do it at the same time every night because of work conflicts or life in general, do the same thing, in the same order, every night.
I will also add, that I am sure this will all change for me the second she moves in to a big girl bed. I am fully aware of that. But for now, this is working for us.