How do I create a better bedtime routine?
Q: My first child is 20 months old and my second is 9 months old. They will not go to bed at a specific time and they both wake up throughout the night. My 20-month-old will sleep through if he is in my bed. Do you have any advice or ideas as to how to get them into a good routine and get them to sleep through the night in their own beds? The putting them to bed and letting them cry suggestion is quite difficult to do, especially when there are two of them!
A: You definitely have your hands full. The three key things to a good night’s sleep are a set sleep schedule, a consistent bedtime routine, and being able to self-soothe to sleep. A good first step is to start having a set bedtime, wake time, and naptimes. It can take several weeks but doing so will help get them on a schedule. Second, institute a bedtime routine that is the same every night, such as a bath, pajamas, and reading a book or singing a song. A bedtime routine will send the message to your little ones that it is time to settle down and get ready for bed. Finally, all babies wake up multiple times per night. Whatever way a baby falls asleep is typically what he or she needs to return to sleep. Thus, the recommended goal is to have them each fall asleep in their cribs on their own. Start with just bedtime. Make changes as slowly or quickly as you want, so you can even begin by patting each of them to sleep in their cribs. After a few nights, sit halfway across the room. Continue to make small changes until each is falling asleep on their own. Consistency will be important!
Answered by Dr. Jodi Mindell