When Ginger Snaps and I announced that we were having a baby, initial reactions were positive. However, they were often followed-up with stories about how tired we were going to be. Babies wake up all night long, we were told. Just when you get them on any sort of routine, they regress, we were told. Those first few months are so hard, we were told. We knew that there was truth to all of this. The first few months would invariably be hard, and we were definitely going to be tired. But I’ve never done well on a funky sleep pattern and I wanted to be able to enjoy Babyface’s first few months, so I made it my mission to learn everything I could about healthy sleep habits for infants so we could start off on the right foot.
And guess what? It worked.
Our baby has, for the most part, slept through the night since she was 6 weeks old. While I’m sure there is a luck-factor to that, I also know that we’ve put effort into instilling good habits and making bedtime predictable for her. I hope this easy 2-month-old baby’s bedtime routine will help any of you who are looking to welcome a new baby soon, or who are trying to get your baby on a better sleep schedule.
The Rules We Stick To
Our 2-month-old baby’s bedtime routine is dictated by certain rules. These are tenants that we learned about when researching infant sleep. They came from books, vlogs, blogs, and word-of-mouth wisdom. I will cite sources when I remember them. We started sticking to these rules from the day she was born and keep them sacred to this day. When you stick to these rules all the time, the actual bedtime routine can be very simple and still work.
Rule 1: Day and Night Are Different
When Babyface was first born, she had day and night mixed up. Her pediatrician told us that this was very common. Ginger Snaps immediately said, “How do we fix it?” The pediatrician shrugged, adjusted his clipboard, and said, “Eventually her circadian rhythm will kick in. You can help by making nighttime dark and quiet and making the daytime more exciting.”
We took this to heart. Ginger Snaps and I decided when we wanted her to be sleeping. In an ideal world, we said, she’d sleep from 8PM-7AM.
Because that was our goal, from the very first day in the hospital, we would get up at 7AM, turn all the lights on, and talk to each other like normal even if she was sleeping. Visitors who saw that she was sleeping initially wanted to whisper. We told them not to. “We want her to be able to sleep through noise,” we said. “Otherwise we’re going to be stuck being quiet whenever she wants to sleep.” To this day, we don’t let whether Babyface is napping or not dictate our behavior, or volume, during the day.
Nighttime is a different story. At Babyface’s bedtime, all lights go off in her bedroom. We put on a soft white noise machine for her, and we try to keep the rest of the house quiet. When she does get us up in the middle of the night, we don’t speak to her if we can avoid it and whisper when we can’t. This way, she knows daytime is fun and exciting, and at night nothing’s happening that she’s going to miss out on.
Rule 2: We Put Her to Bed Awake
I read lots of books while pregnant. On Becoming Baby Wise was all about getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule. The best thing I learned from that book was to always put your baby down drowsy but awake.
At first, this doesn’t feel natural. Babyface would fuss a bit, and I would be tempted to rock her all the way to sleep. But we held out. If she fussed a lot, we’d place a hand on her, remind her that we loved her, and then step back again. Eventually, she’d fall asleep. But what’s important about this technique is that she learned to fall asleep on her own without any crutches. Now, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, as long as she’s not hungry or wet, she has the skills she needs to put herself back to sleep.
Rule 3: We Designated Something as “Bedtime Only”
Part of getting your baby to sleep is triggering her brain to know it’s bedtime. We do this in several ways, including have a set routine every night, turning the lights off, etc. However, one extra thing that we do is have something in her life that we only do at bedtime.
It doesn’t really matter what that thing is. I know some vloggers I watch massage their babies with lavender at bedtime. Ginger Snaps and I are allergic to most scents, so that wasn’t a good choice for our family, but it is one option.
In our case, we chose the swaddler. Babyface loves her swaddler, and she calms down when we put her in it, but we only use it at bedtime. We don’t use it when she’s having a fussy day. We don’t use it for naps. In our household, swaddlers are one thing that we keep in reserve for bedtime only. Granted, we may switch to the sleep sack when she outgrows her swaddler, but when we do, we’ll again reserve that for bedtime only.
Rule 4: We Don’t Start Habits We Don’t Want Her to Have
I know moms who have to get up every time their baby drops their bink to put it back. I also know moms who can only get their baby to sleep if they’re driving in the car, or if the baby is in its rock-and-play, or if they’re rocking in a rocking chair.
Ginger Snaps and I decided before Babyface was born what we were willing to do in the middle of the night and what we weren’t willing to do in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, our “willing-to-do” list is short. It includes:
- Feeding Her
- Changing Her
- Changing Her Sheets
- Cuddling Her If She Has a Bad Dream
And that’s it. Neither of us is willing to get up multiple times a night—or even once—to put her pacifier in her mouth. We’re not willing to go downstairs and rock with her and then go back upstairs to put her back to bed. We’re not willing to put her in her rock-and-play until she falls asleep and then transition her over to the crib.
So we never let ourselves do it.
Guys, I needed Ginger Snaps’ help on this one. She goes to sleep so easy in the Rock-and-Play that when she would wake up crying those first few weeks, I would be tempted to go get it. He would remind me that if I did it once I might find myself doing it every night of her infancy.
Rule 5: We Let Her “Fuss It Out” ; We Don’t Let Her “Cry It Out”
I heard the term “fuss it out” on a vlog, and I loved it. If you’re a mom, you know the difference between when your baby is crying and when she’s just fussing. I don’t let my baby cry. If she starts crying in the middle of the night, I’ll pick her up, check to make sure she doesn’t need a diaper change, offer her a bottle, and cuddle her until she’s drowsy but still awake. But if she’s just fussing, that’s something else entirely. I do let my baby fuss. In fact, I think it’s good for her. I want her to learn to problem solve and be able to do things independently. I don’t want her to think that she needs me or her Daddy to rescue her from every feeling of frustration.
And guess what? Even from an early age, if she was just fussing, she could usually figure it out on her own.
Our 2-Month-Old Baby’s Bedtime Routine
So what does our 2-month-old baby’s bedtime routine actually look like? Guess what: It’s crazy easy! Here’s how it works:
2-Month-Old Baby’s Pre-Bedtime Routine
Though she cue feeds during the day, we always give her dinner no later than 7:30 PM, that way she’s hungry for her final bottle at bedtime. Between 7:30 and 9:30, we rotate between different gentle activities, which may include:
- A bath or shower
- Reading a book or two
- Rocking in the chair
- Cuddling with one of us on the couch
2-Month-Old Baby’s Bedtime Routine
9:30 is her actual bedtime, and it’s when our 2-month-old baby’s bedtime routine actually starts. When Babyface was waking up every night, Ginger Snaps always put her to bed and I did the middle of the night feedings (because he has to get up and go to work, and I can sleep in if I want to). Now that she only rarely wakes up in the middle of the night, we trade off. Either way, her bedtime routine always includes the following.
- One of us changes her diaper at the downstairs changing station.
- We put lotion on her head, elbows, knees, wrists, chest, and back. (Eczema,
- We put her in warm PJs, making sure her feet are covered either with footie PJs or socks. Cold feet will wake her up.
- The other person makes her a nice, warm bottle while the first person is changing her.
- Whichever parent isn’t going upstairs with her gives goodnight kisses.
- The other parent takes her upstairs. They keep the lights off in her bedroom while putting her in her
- We feed her a bottle—no eye contact, no chatting–burp her, and kiss her head.
- We set her in the crib and leave one hand on her chest.
- With the other hand, we turn on her noise machine.
- We make sure she seems settled.
- We leave, close the door behind us, and take the monitor with us.
And that’s it. The whole bedtime routine takes us 30 minutes—45 minutes max—and she’s down.