Bedtimes are a very interesting thing for any parent. After all, every child is different (as we keep hearing) which also means that they each have different needs when it comes to getting a bedtime routine in place. I can only imagine the struggle that must be for parents of multiple children!

After all, our little punk rock princess is a handle all by herself! She doesn’t really like to go to bed and sleep. Even if she is really tired, she just wanted to stay up and play forever. So we create a routine for her to get her relaxed and ready to sleep. However, that soon becomes redundant as she gets used to it and it stops having the desired effect.

The First Bedtime Routine

Because of my daughter’s distaste for the beauty of sleep, we have repeatedly needed to rethink and reconfigure the bedtime routine. What started off as a simple and formulaic set of events that repeated each night eventually morphed into a complete mess of frantically completed actions to try and get her in bed before she decides to fight against it.

To show you what I mean, here is her original bedtime routine after moving into her own room;

  1. Sit her in the high chair with some warm milk
  2. Run a nice warm bath
  3. Give her a bath and dress her for bed
  4. Play lullaby music as she drifts off to sleep

As you can see, it was a really simple routine to follow. It also worked brilliantly, for a few months. However, it wasn’t long before she started getting used to that routine. Once that happened, she wouldn’t drift off to sleep anymore. Instead, she would start rolling around and playing in her cot. We needed a new routine.

The Second Bedtime Routine

After our first routine stopped working, we started playing around with it to try and find what would help get our daughter to go to sleep. There was a lot of trial and error over the next few months as we kept reconfiguring the existing routine. It wasn’t until 3 or 4 months later that we decided to drop parts of the routine and change things up a bit.

This actually seemed to work, and that was when we found that the warm bath actually seemed to make her wake up more! So, we moved the bath to the middle of the day, after lunch, so that she was clean for the afternoon. Then, we let her play for longer in the living room in the evening, to use up her energy. Finally, we then started the next routine;

  1. Sit her in the high chair with some warm milk
  2. Get her dressed for bed
  3. Let her watch My Little Pony for a little while in bed
  4. Turn off My Little Pony and put the nightlight on
  5. Kiss her goodnight and stroke her hair until she starts to drift off
  6. Sneak out of the room like ninjas without making any noise

Finally, we had cracked it. She was falling asleep without too much hassle again, getting a full night’s sleep as she should. Of course, as the title of this post suggests, that wasn’t even the final form of the bedtime routine. Oh no, it was about the change again. This routine only lasted a few months, just like the first, so the time soon came to change things up again.

The Current Bedtime Routine

As it stands, the third bedtime routine has actually been the most successful. We are still using the same routine almost a year after starting it, so part of me is hopeful that we have finally cracked it and have one that will stick until she no longer needs a routine. However, based on our experiences so far, I doubt that will be the case.

We didn’t need to change too much from the second routine either, which was lucky. Because of that, we sussed this one out quite quickly, which was good for everyone involved. The current bedtime routine is as follows;

  1. Sit her in the high chair with some warm milk
  2. Get her dressed for bed
  3. Put the hallway light on
  4. Kiss her goodnight and stroke her hair until she is happy to lay down
  5. Leave the room whilst blowing kisses and telling her “good night”
  6. Close the door a bit, leaving it ajar so that some light from the hallway comes into the room

By doing this, she starts to fall asleep by herself, without any need for music or late night My Little Pony episodes.

Never Assume The Same Routine Will Work Forever

If there was one piece of advice I could give to new parents, it would be to prepare for change. You may have found the perfect bedtime routine for your baby or toddler, but chances are, it won’t stay that way. If my daughter is anything to go by, then you’ll end up changing the routine over and over, to make sure it suits your child and is still actually effective.

Keep an eye on which parts of the routine seem to be having the opposite effect. For example, does your child seem to be awake and aware of things after having a bath? Then it is probably time to move that out of the bedtime routine, just as we did. By paying attention to how the different steps of the routine change your child’s mood, you’ll be able to determine what works and what needs to be changed. But believe me, some things will almost certainly need to be changed at one point.

And That’s All Folks

Bedtime routines are a wonderful thing that is great for both parents and children alike. But you can’t expect to use the same routine day in, day out, for the entirety of the baby and toddler years. Be prepared to move things around, rearrange the routine and keep up with what works for your child.

Have you had to change a bedtime routine? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!