After weeks of letting Luke go down for the night whenever he felt like it, I decided it was time to start The Routine. As in, the sleep routine. As in, little baby, you are no longer going to stay up to watch Letterman with me. So Sunday night, at nine o'clock sharp, he took a bath. That was followed with a post-bath lavender lotion rub (hey, it might sound kind of girlie, but I read somewhere that this lavender lotion just knocks them right out). Then pajamas. Then rocking and nursing. And then? Then? Then it's crib time.
Night one worked pretty well. After the initial lay down, I had to go in once more to nurse him, but after that he stayed lights out. Night two, he started getting crabby at about 8, but getting him to sleep was actually a little tougher. I started the bath at 8:45 and thought I was some sort of parenting genius because obviously my baby is recognizing after one day of The Routine that it was bedtime. But then I had to nurse him twice more after the first lay down. And then I twice followed that with extra rocking sessions before he finally conked out for the count. Both nights, he was asleep by about 10:15.
Still, this is progress.
I worry a little that the only real way he falls asleep is while eating. I'd say that's how he gets himself to sleep about 95 percent of the time. It's probably becoming some sort of crutch. I read things that say that even now, at two and a half months, you can't let babies become used to falling asleep with any sort of crutch. Then I read things that say shame on those people telling you your baby can't have a sleep crutch, don't they know these are a little tiny babies and that it is totally natural they would need a little nurturing? Who can possibly expect a little tiny baby to conform to some pattern picked for its convenience to an adult's life? Then my head starts hurting from all the conflicting information and I run around in circles chasing my tail.
It always comes down to the same thing though. I'm going to do what seems right for my own little guy. And right now, my little guy likes to nurse himself to sleep, and I'm fine with letting him do that. I don't expect that this routine will really sink in and work right away either. He's probably still too little. But I'm going to stick with it and work through it, even if it means rocking or nursing him back to sleep seven times each night. I have about a month before I go back to work, and it seems like getting his routine a little more, um, routine would be a good idea before then. It will help me, too, since I'll be getting up earlier. It's been lovely sleeping in until 9:30 every day, but I know that can't last forever. When I go back, I might be getting up as early as 6 a.m. Better start getting used to it.
I'd love to hear what kind of things other mothers do to encourage their kids to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. And how early they started using a bedtime routine.