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!!!
I found that caffeine made it harder for her to nap but this was in early infancy so I'm not sure if it would have been the case as a toddler. You can always limit caffeine to first thing in the morning or during naptime so it's mostly out of your system by nap or bedtime.
It was a tough age for sleep and things improved once she was a strong walker and had a few words. Hth, good luck!
Curious what naps are like? Can she still fall asleep easily for those? Is she doing 2 a day still? I guess I'm just wondering if you might be missing her "tired window." You say she starts to seem tired around 6. Have you tried for a bedtime closer to that time? (I know, sometimes schedules just don't allow that to work. I'm just curious as to whether she might sleep more easily at that time.)
skycheattraffic, I will try the curtains. We do already have a white noise machine that we love!
newmamalizzy, I'm glad you brought up naps. Morning nap is usually pretty good, but the afternoon nap is really dicey. It's too light out and for some reason while the light doesn't prevent her from napping in the morning, I think it does hinder her in the afternoon after a full day of stimulation. She is a really energetic, never-sits-still type baby. I have the best luck in the afternoon with her either napping on my back in a wrap or in the car seat while driving the car. In an ideal world that nap would happen at or around 3, but it's been pushed back later and later and today she missed it altogether. It just seems like everything unravels after 3pm...late afternoons are my hardest time of the day...trying to make dinner with a crying, tired, cranky baby is so unpleasant for everyone. I want to figure this out...figure out what she needs so she and the rest of us can experience a more fluid transition in the afternoons.