FTM here, and was wondering if you all could suggest sleep routines that eventually allowed for your babies to have good sleep habits.
my baby is due in january, but i'm not sure when and how to start these routines.
I think it really depends on the baby, as katelove said. One thing that really helped me was learning her cues. We tend to think babies will sleep when they want to sleep, but they don't always. My daughter was super fussy for a while and needed to nurse constantly. While the nursing was part of it, she was also tired and didn't know how to fall asleep. She's a very alert baby who doesn't like being left out, so she won't soothe herself down. So we started being very consistent as soon as we saw a yawn or an uncharacteristic fuss. Change diaper, swaddle, shush, and nurse until she falls asleep. Now at 3 months she's an excellent sleeper, though I know that may change. She takes a morning nap, an afternoon nap (at some point... the times are still variable) and sleeps through the night with 1-2 feedings in there somewhere.
Also, a lot of this is luck. Our daughter knew night from day almost immediately, which really helped set a routine. I think what you'll find is that your baby will fall into his or her own schedule and it's easiest if you follow suit and try to facilitate that schedule rather than setting your own. That's easier said than done if you have to work outside the home or have other little ones running around.
Oh yes, I third taking baby's lead. I monitored Little Miss' habits for the first couple of months, and the only thing we did regularly was dim the lights at night, and then give her a bath before putting her pajamas on. She was 3 or 4 months old before I started to try to "put her to bed" (in her co-sleeper, we co-slept and bed-shared and still do), and as the previous posters mentioned, we always kept bedtime super-positive.
Actually, Mr. teased me that my methods would surely backfire, as if Little Miss could not get to sleep after a certain amount of time, I'd just take her out of the bedroom, feed her my nighttime snack and snuggle her while we watched TV. So basically, her reward for not sleeping was snack and TV. But at 14 months she's been reliably self-settling at her bedtime for several weeks now. I just kept doing her routine (bath, jammies, story, nunnie, bedtime) and not forcing the issue. It's misery when they won't sleep, but that doesn't last forever.
At first, (especially the first several months) it's kind of up to the baby really. You kinda just have learn to read your baby, and respond. Babies kind of evolve their own patterns that will be influenced by whatever's going on in the environment. Eventually, though, you can shape the process a bit, and a bedtime routine will evolve out of that.
Any attempt at "scheduling" an infant will only lead to frustration because all kids are different.
Once you start seeing some consistency in patterns, you'll be able to slowly implement the kind of "bedtime routine" that you hear people talking about (e.g. bath/pajamas/story/lights out). Until then, you kinda just have to "learn your kid".