I am looking for some advice on ways to improve our bedtime routine. DD just turned one. She seems to need a very long time to unwind before settling down to sleep...like several hours. I can clearly tell she starts to become tired around 6:00 but she won't actually fall asleep until the sun goes down. Our PM routine goes something like this:
6:45/7- Eat dinner
7/7:30-change into pajamas, change diaper, bring her up to her nursery and nurse her in the glider. The sun is still out at this time so even with the blinds closed the room is light. She wants to nurse but also to play. She will nurse for a few seconds back and forth on each breast and then want to get down, crawl around the room taking toys off shelves, playing with dolls or random objects, then comes back to nurse for a few more seconds...it's up/down/up/down/up/down...for the next hour. It's exhausting. This goes on until she's finally tired enough that she falls asleep nursing in my arms, at which point I carry her to the crib where she will sleep for 3-4 hours (sometimes more) before waking up. Generally when she wakes up I go get her and bring her into my bed (we co-sleep/bed share) with me. If I'm not ready to go to sleep myself, I'll nurse her back to sleep.
Prior to this I had been nursing her down in our bed (which is a mattress on the floor), but once she started toddling around I felt more comfortable having her start the night in a crib. I also wanted to cut down on the playtime happening while trying to nurse her to sleep so I thought nursing her in the glider would make it less available for her to crawl around and play while I'm trying to calm her down to sleep. In one sense it has actually worked well as she seems to sleep longer in the crib than she did when she started the night in our bed...but her needing to unwind by popping on and off the breast is the same or more active.
A few things I'm considering doing are...giving up caffeine and buying blackout curtains. Any other suggestions or thoughts on those? Is it normal for a one year old to need a couple of hours of active play before winding down for bed? Is there anything at all I can do to shorten the amount of time she needs to play once we're up in the nursery?
I'd appreciate any insights...thank you!!!