But for many families bedtime is a battle of the wills, and these battles make parents think that they do not want anymore children, by the time the child is asleep the parents are worn out from the experience. I choose my battles, and I don't want bedtime to be one of them. So I have trained myself to understand how babies fall sleep peacefully.
As you hold your tiny baby you will notice that she is having long blinks because she is sleepy. Now capture this moment with a lullaby. During the last couple minutes before the baby falls asleep repeat a little rhyme or lullaby to the baby. Repeat the same rhyme over and over until the baby is sound asleep. Before long the child will associate this rhyme with becoming very very sleepy. A day will come when the rhyme alone will trigger sleepy feelings. Now you will be able to control when the child becomes sleepy.
Here's how it works, you notice the baby is cranky or tired, or it's simply bed time. Here's what I do to make bedtime quick, happy and peaceful from five months to age 2 ½. I almost always put my little ones to bed at around 7:30 pm with this method so I have have plenty of time in the evening to spend with my husband. From 9 months until age two all of my children will sleep about 12 hours. The following method only seems to work if you make the sleep rhyme association first. I start teaching the rhyme when the baby is tiny, but it may work with older babies if you rock them to sleep and say the rhyme while they conk out.
Here is the rhyme I repeat to my babies at sleepy time:
Hush a bye, Don't you cry
Go to sleep my little baby
When you wake
you shall have
all the pretty little horses
Blacks and Bays
Dapples and Grays
All the pretty little horses
Hush a bye, Don't you cry
I. First I make sure all of her needs are met, she has a fresh diaper, and is not hungry and I make sure she has comfy clothing on.
II. Next I pick up the child in my arms and repeat the rhyme a couple times. The familiar rhyme will first relax the child and then the rhyme-sleep association will set in and the child will become very sleepy.
III. Then I will say “Lets go find your donkey” (or other bedtime toy, a toy that always stays in the bed) Then I go to the child's bed repeating the rhyme again. When we get to the bed I say “Where's your donkey? Here's your Donkey!”
IV. Then I lay her down and ask “Do you want your special donkey?” The small child will be thinking about getting her donkey, rather than protesting bedtime.
V. “Do you want your special pillow” I ask next. “Here's your pillow, lay on your pillow.”
VI. Then when she lays down I ask “Where is your blanket? Here it is. Do you want your special blanket?” I repeat the same conversation every time, children love repetition, and they love knowing what to expect, it becomes a little game.
VII. Sometimes I give the child a drink as part of the routine.
VIII. Then I say a prayer for the child.
I. Next I ask “Do you want me to turn on your special music?” Then I turn her favorite calm song, and keep it on repeat.
II. Finally I say “Have a good rest.” Then the child hugs the donkey, snuggles up with her blanket and pillow and listens to the music.
Bedtime is a happy time.