How to Establish a Bedtime Routine (and why it's so important)

*DISCLAIMER: This post has been sponsored by Collective Bias inc. and it's advertisers, but all opinions are original and my own. #CollectiveBias #NaturalGoodness * 

When E was around 6 months or so we quickly learned the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine. She was not  a good sleeper. She would wake 3-4 times a night for the first 6 or 7 months- until we sleep trained her, and then off an on due to moving several times and lots of schedule changes.

This definitely made for a tired mama- the kind of thing where you dream about having a full night of sleep. You know how it goes.

Eventually I started doing some research, to see if this was "normal" and if there was anything I could do to fix it. I found lots of various sleep training methods and (of course) millions of opinions on everything. (I can discuss what we did for "sleep training" in a different post if anyone thinks that would be helpful!) But there was one common thread throughout most of what I found- creating a solid nighttime routine.

Kids NEED repetition. It helps them feel secure and safe to explore within those boundaries. Setting a loose schedule for Evie every night helped her know what to expect next and got her thinking about going to sleep before we put her in her crib.

Here's what we did: (and still do to this day- though she is a MUCH better sleeper now).

*Note: This can/will look different for every family! There is no right way to do this....I'm just providing an example of what worked for us.*

-Talk about bedtime before its bedtime. This was huge for E who does not do well if we spring things on her. Preparing her an hour or so before (after dinner usually) really helped her cooperate.

- Set a routine and stick to it. Obviously, there are nights when you break the routine, and we are definitely flexible, but at first it is important to be consistent.

- Be patient. If you have a "problem sleeper" like I did, things won't change overnight (literally...). Remembering that they're learning a new skill, so to speak, will help you be more patient when things aren't progressing as fast as you wish.

Now that E is almost 2, things look a little bit differently at night, but we still follow the same guidelines as when she was learning the routine. Here is what an average night looks like in our house:

7:30

// Bath-time and brushing teeth: this is usually after we've all eaten dinner and had time to play and be crazy for a while.

Evie LOVES brushing her teeth. As with all products I use, it's important to me that I use a toothpaste I trust. I need to know that if she eats it like candy (not really, but she loves the taste of it) she will be ok. I use Tom's of Maine®'s all natural children's toothpaste in strawberry for E (they also have a fluoride-free version for babies up to 24 months). There are no dyes, flavors or fragrances in these products, so I'm not worried about letting her brush her own teeth. I picked mine up at Walmart and I'm loving it so far! 

 If you're interested in trying Tom's of Maine® for your kids, they will be hosting demos in select Walmarts on September 19th- lots of free samples and coupons.

8:00// Wind down and read stories: during this time we keep talking about bed time and *maybe* let her watch one episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Then we let her pick which book she wants to read and who gets to read it to her.

 Lot's of snuggles and pacifier stealing happens during this time. Also, I can't get over Mara's face in this photo....

Goodnight Moon has been her favorite since she was tiny.

8:30 // Go upstairs to bed. Either Aj or I will talk her up to bed, sing her songs and rub her back (she's SO snuggly...) then tell her it's time for sleeping and let her pass out.

That's how we do it at our house. It's pretty simple so far, since Mara isn't big enough to participate yet.

I'm curious, how do those of you with kids do bedtime at your house? I'd love tips for keeping two kids on the same schedule!